Beyond Monitoring

Limitations of Typical Security Monitoring
Security systems are a good start for protecting your home when you are away, and we often suggest this as a good starting point for many of our clients who are concerned about specific threats.  But a security monitoring system has several drawbacks that consumers need to be aware of.
  • Law-enforcement response time.  Due the high number of false alarms, law-enforcement agencies typically assign alarm calls as the lowest priority for response.  Add to this the fact that most burglars are in and out of a home in a matter of minutes and your chances of stopping a burglary with an alarm system is limited.

  • Risk of no response. Under some circumstances, Law Enforcement won’t be in a position to respond at all to alarm calls due to strains on local resources or due to the expectation that a call is a false alarm.

  • Deterrence but not a defense. An alarm system will deter the common criminal who has other available targets, but to the determined criminal, or the one who has picked you as a specific target, he will find a way around it.  Unlike locks and other physical barriers, the alarm system does nothing to keep an intruder out of your home.

  • Utility failure. Cutting phone or power will immediately disable a large portion of alarm systems—with no response from the monitoring company.  Even systems with cellular back-up only have a few days of battery reserves to draw upon.  In an extended power outage, or when gone for an extended vacation, your security system could be rendered useless.

  • Security company ethics. We have heard horror stories of alarm companies that have sold installations, but failed to activate the system for monitoring.  Others who outsource monitoring to a small operation run out of someone’s basement.  You need to know how your company measures up, and you need to test it regularly.  Do you know how to test it without triggering a false alarm?

  • Familiarity of the attacker. Oftentimes, families are victims of someone they know.  These individuals often know the extent of your security system, including the codes and passwords to disable it.

  • Deceptive attacks.  A common tactic used in defeating an alarm system is to intentionally trigger a series of "false alarms" until the owner either disables the entire system, or the police refuse to respond.  Alternatively, if someone can get inside the house without breaking a door, window, or lock, they could simply secure the house and hide inside until the police inspect the scene and conclude it was a false alarm.

  • Scope of attack. There are conceivable circumstances and historical precedent where groups of rioting individuals roamed from house to house and business to business attacking and looting out of a sense of rage and entitlement.  In these circumstances, law-enforcement won't be concerned about responding to any individual alarm calls.  Instead, they will hope for reinforcements and focus on crowd control and eventual dispersement.  Should your home be unfortunate enough to be located in the vicinity of these riots, only physical barriers will protect life and property--it doesn't matter how good your monitoring system is.
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