As mentioned in many of the posts on this blog, the main goal of your home security plan should be to five minute proof your most important possessions. As detailed in my post about the typical residential burglary, most crooks follow more or less the same pattern when burglarizing homes. Given this common M.O. the concept of five minute proofing is the most important consideration in minimizing your risk.
Your burglar alarm is NOT, in and of itself, a deterrent. It is just one part of your overall security plan. An alarm is simply a device that will provide notification that there is a possible problem at your home… notification that is only valuable if acted upon immediately.
Without taking deliberate measures to increase the physical security of your home, your burglar alarm will offer little value.
Start by pushing your detection as far out as possible.
If you are relying on a motion detector to be your first line of defense, you might as well cancel your alarm monitoring contract and save your money. The purpose of an alarm is to detect someone as they are trying to break in as opposed to once they are already successfully inside. Motion detectors are an important part of any alarm, but only offer value in providing ancillary information during an alarm… not as the first means of detection.
When you hear those ads on the radio saying that you do not need more equipment… they are lying. All of the effort in a break and enter is in the ‘breaking’ part, once they have ‘entered’ it’s too late. All a motion detector does is trip once someone has already made it inside…. way too late.
You either need to install an alarm that will offer value, or not bother at all. There is no value in paying a monthly monitoring fee for a system that will only detect a crook as they are leaving your house.
At a minimum, EVERY opening in your home should have a contact installed.
A few years ago, during a rash of home invasions that were occurring, I was asked to answer the telephones during the Global Newshour as a part of a ‘home invasion hotline’ for a couple of nights during the show. The majority of the people calling in were elderly people living on the East Side (where most of the home invasions were occurring)… they all wanted to know how they should best spend the limited dollars they had on security. Most asked about alarm systems.
The advice I gave them then is the same as we offer now… a home alarm system is the very last place that you should be spending money. An alarm system is only a worthwhile investment if you have already taken prudent physical security precautions such as installing high-security deadbolts and a proper door.
Unless you can afford to have a proper alarm system installed, one that provides early detection, save your money. Don’t get sucked in by the radio ads that you hear. A free alarm is typically worth exactly what you pay for it. It definitely isn’t worth what you will have to pay to ‘monitor’ it.