I might have installed a good lock to my door, but the question remains. A neighbor has had the difficult experience of a burglary. She told me everything about it. But I couldn’t help but think: what if somebody breaks in my home next time? If a door or window is broken and a burglar can get inside? That is why I decided to investigate alarm systems or other security systems in a broader sense.
Are alarm systems effective and worth the money? Whether or not your alarm dials the police, messages you: a strong siren frightens the burglar. He tries to be fast and is likely to take fewer belongings. He faces another inconvenience. And he is at risk. He will leave the premises as soon as possible. There won’t be an home invasion. Lastly, an alarm is no longer as expensive as it used to.
An alarm system might be somehow difficult to be as effective as you’d want. It has to be fine-tuned and thought out in a broader sense of security device for your home. This is how it can prove to be really helpful.
1. Local alarm system
Those kinds of alarm systems trigger alarms locally only. The bell rings only on the premises. A bell inside or a siren outside are the two main ways for a local alarm system to be heard.
Whether the siren is inside or outside or both, it has several purposes:
- it frightens the burglar. Even if little, it is enough to make him hurry up and leave the premises as soon as possible which is good for you. If the burglar is an amateur, he might just run away. If he is a kind of professional, every second he uses defeating the device will be a second he won’t spend visiting your home,
- be heard in the neighborhood. Your neighbors might come to your house or at least have a look through the window. Someone might call the Police. For sure, this is not a given fact. Many times we think that someone else will call the Police and in the end, nobody does. But will the Police be called if no siren? So even if we cannot be sure that the police will eventually be called, I think that is is definitely better than nothing.
Every second a burglar will spend trying to defeat the system is a second he won’t spend stealing your valuables.
2. Remote security system
The system will contact law enforcement through an autodialer or more commonly now through a network (internet) if a sensor is triggered by an intrusion. Those systems are in general more effective than locally contained systems. The problem is false alarms. The system might be set off by a pet, a family member, etc. and the police will be automatically called. If the alarm is false, the police might give you a fine. But generally, the more expensive the system, the more reliable it is. And year after year, those devices are generally better and better. They are no more what the used to be: set off by a falling leaf, a spider, and so on…
When law enforcement is called and go to your house to check it, the burglar knows that he has very little time to do his thing.
Now, home systems can alert the person you want it to: it is no more the police or an independent security contractor. The system can ring and alert your smartphone and you decide whether or not it is a false alarm, wether you check your house yourself or send someone, whether you call the police or not. And if you have connected a camera, you can have a look at the images in real-time. This is priceless compared to what alarm systems used to be.
4. Don’t be the weakest link
If in a street, all houses are protected by alarm systems but one: guess which is more likely to be visited? Do you think a burglar will break in your house if it is protected by an alarm whereas your neighbor’s is not?
This is an endless discussion: some people think that by protecting their home they think they declare themselves as a potential target. That they call the attention on their house.
Well, I don’t. I think that the more a house is protected, the less likely it is to be broken in. Burglars go for the easiest route most of the time.
3. Home Safes
This is when home safes are very useful. A burglar will have little time if the alarm comes off, or if the police are called. This is why he might steal only what’s lying around. Everything in the safe will be untouched. There is no way he will take the time to open the safe or tear it off the ground. Home safes, even the cheap ones, will usually be a good help against most break-ins.
Security is a whole. The more parts are in place, the more parts are complementary, the safer you are. It is often heard that we can do nothing against break-ins, that burglars always succeed. This is not always the case. With a good lock, a good safe, an alarm system, a burglar will lose time at each stage and even lose faith, be less effective. It is in your interest to make his “job” as hard as possible.
Yes, some houses cannot be protected, with almost any success: remote houses. A cabin in the mountain for example. A potential burglar will have as much time as needed, with no fear of making noise and the possibility of using any tool. But a remote home is not where you usually store many of your valuables.
Home alarm systems used to cost several thousand dollars for a complete installation twenty years ago. But now, for a few hundred dollars, you can have a complete set of tools that will monitor your home:
- fire threat,
- carbon monoxide,
- water damage whether it is a flood or broken pipes,
- medical emergencies,
- home invasions,
- security cameras.
For far less money, you have a result in an order of magnitude better. For me, it is a no brainer. And it can be a DIY project, you don’t have to call a professional to do the work. Everything is easier and easier to install and set up.
And in most cases, every brand has a modular solution that can be installed at your own pace. You can start by installing the main alarm system. Then later, you can add the fire and monoxide monitoring solution. Then cameras. Doing so, you can spread out the hurdle and the cost of a complete home security solution.
7. Wireless AND remote.
Everything is wireless which is easy to set up but also to monitor remotely. You have a convenience to watch or look after a child, an elderly person, watch your house for a fire. There is always a link between you and your home.
8. Are Alarm Systems worth the money?
You might as well just never know it. It is comparable to insurance.
There is a probability scenario in which your house would have never be broken in, no matter what you have done. But as well there is one in which a burglar chose your neighbor’s house just because you had an alarm system, but you never knew.
And can we give a price to peace of mind?
In 2018, nationwide, there were an estimated 7,196,045 property crimes. The estimated numbers for all three property crimes showed declines when compared with the previous year’s estimates. Burglaries dropped 11.9 percent, larceny-thefts decreased 5.4 percent, and motor vehicle thefts were down 3.1 percent.
Collectively, victims of property crimes (excluding arson) suffered losses estimated at $16.4 billion in 2018. (Source FBI)
And a property crime can become a violent crime, which is another story, another risk, another pain. Don’t take that risk. I chose not to.
Some insurance might even ask you to have an alarm system. Some will offer you a discount for the installation or the premium if you install an alarm. Even if it doesn’t cover the total cost of your alarm system, installation for sure but also yearly maintenance, a discount is always good and helps keep the alarm system cost down. So this has to be taken into consideration. But the system, to be eligible, needs to be installed by an approved installer.
An alarm system will not do everything automagically. The owner of the house has to be vigilant, understand and use his alarm system wisely. The alarm will be effective, as goes without saying, if the owner sets it up correctly and takes the time to turn it one when he leaves the house or go to sleep. Its effective use will make the alarm system worth it. It is not “transparent” as it has to be actively and routinely monitored.
Do not buy a system that is too cheap and doesn’t cover the need for your property. Size it according to the number of windows, doors, the superficial of the house, whether it is an apartment, and so on. It has to be tailored to your house AND to your needs.