Dispelling the myths of home security

Recently we came across a web posting that gave 14 reasons why you shouldn’t get an alarm system. I found this the perfect opportunity to dispel some myths and address some concerns with home security systems.

You may be wondering the same thing. Do I really need an alarm system?

You may be hearing some of the same myths of home security.

I can tell you one thing, doing nothing to protect your home has a 100% failure rate. And you’ll never know when it happens until you come home to open doors or broken windows.

I’d rather know right away, and have the opportunity to respond.

Plus, alarm systems can easily protect your home from fire and quickly alert emergency medical services – something the author never even addresses.

So let’s get right into those 14 myths and concerns with the first one:

“1. They can be expensive to install.”

Alarm Professor: Alarms are not inexpensive, but they are not “thousands of dollars”. It really comes down to the system you want and how much you want to invest. I had a recent video that addressed the essentials you need for home protection. You can always do more, but that will get you the essentials on a reasonable budget.

Plus, many homes already have either a working system or a system that was once working. A reputable local service company should be able to fix it, and an affordable monitoring solution like Blockwatch Alarm will be able to provide alarm monitoring of almost any existing system.

These systems can be put in service in most cases for anywhere between $80 – $400.  New alarm systems (installed) start at about $500. Most homes can have a very complete burglar alarm installed for less than $1500. If you want to do your own installation (and good professional equipment is readily available, you can do it easily for $750.00

“2. Those monthly monitoring fees add up. They can range anywhere from $25 to $100 per month — and the commitment is typically over several years.”

Alarm Professor: There are innovative companies upending the industry of overpriced monitoring (see my article on the Alarm Industry’s first dirty little secret), and they provide more affordable plans while protecting your home just as well. Blockwatch Alarm monitoring starts as low as $9.99 per month with no contracts.  You can cancel anytime, but it’s so affordable you wouldn’t even need to.

“3. They’re annoying.  Ask any security system owner who sets their alarm at night before going to bed how much fun it is when another family member wakes up and accidentally sets the alarm off because they failed to properly deactivate it.”

Alarm Professor: Most alarm systems have the ability to have operating modes for use when people are inside and when they are not. If you set up the alarm criteria and take into account how the alarm will be used they will not cause annoying activations.

A reputable local alarm service company or solo installer should be able to affordably help. If they try to take advantage with system replacements or crazy fees just to look at the system, be sure to see my article on disreputable alarm companies, what to expect, and what to do if you run into one.

“4. They have a high false-alarm rate.”

Alarm Professor: It is true that a high percentage of alarm activations transmitted to the central monitoring station are not a result of someone breaking into the home. You can watch my video on this very subject of false alarm fines as a result of tightening city budgets and the unverified reports alarm monitoring companies automatically send to the police.

At Blockwatch Alarm, we route the burglar alarm signal to the homeowners, loved ones, and neighbors who you have asked to look out for your home. They are in a better position to verify if professional police or guard response is needed. (The activation of the alarm siren causes a burglar to vacate the site immediately, so response is to secure the site if necessary and get eyewitness accounts of the criminals and vehicles, not to apprehend criminals).

It usually eliminates any false alarm fines because the report is an eyewitness account from someone on or near the premises. It is also more effective because the people you know and trust will go to your home and make sure everything is closed back up, damage is addressed, and your home is once again locked up.

“5. The security monitoring centers are overwhelmed. In order to reduce traffic, some monitoring companies intentionally increase the time it takes for an alarm to register at their site, which is why it can often take as long as two minutes to get a call-back.”

Alarm Professor: Very true. Not that it matters because monitoring center employees have no idea what is happening at your home and just follow an automatic script. They can’t check on your home, make sure something is wrong, or give an eyewitness report to the police. They also can’t re-secure your home like closing windows and doors and address any damage after a break-in.

For those reasons, we created Blockwatch Alarm as an affordable solution where the people you know and trust are notified instead of some no name employee in a monitoring center that can do absolutely nothing to help your home.

Blockwatch Alarm only sends the life safety signals (Fire, Medical and Panic) to a monitoring center, if you choose to have it. These make up less than 3% of all signals generated by the alarm system and are not prone to false alarm. The monitoring center processes all these codes as emergency and thus prioritizes them for response.

“6. Your neighbors will hate you.  Especially after they’ve been roused out of a sound sleep at 3 a.m. on a Monday by the blaring sound of your home alarm — while you’re on vacation in Maui.”

Alarm Professor: I’ve always discouraged outside sirens. I suggest to keep the noise inside so the burglar gets the full benefit and they run! And on our Blockwatch Alarm monitoring service, you choose who gets notified. It will only notify those people who have agreed to be notified in the event of an alarm at your home. You have 24/7 access to your Blockwatch web portal that allows you to update your call  and notification lists at any time. The process is simple and immediate.

“7. Most people simply ignore them. All of those false alarms have conditioned neighbors to pay little attention to them anymore. Of course, the cops have an obligation to show up.”

Alarm Professor: The average bystander who doesn’t know you probably won’t do much to help. But when it comes to the people you know and trust, they will want to watch your back. They will already know you and be concerned when trouble strikes your home.

The Blockwatch Alarm monitoring service notifies the people you know and trust, whether they hear an alarm going off or not. And the system does not notify anyone who has not agreed to be involved with you and your alarm system.

It should also be noted that in many jurisdictions police do not have an obligation to respond to a burglary alarm system activation. That is what makes our notification system so valuable. Many alarm owners believe that having the monitoring station send the police will guarantee that a response is made, but that is simply not the case. See my video on that very subject of empty promises by the alarm monitoring companies.

“8. Some police departments charge a response fee for wasting their time. Usually, you can expect a bill from city hall after the first or second false alarm.”

Alarm Professor:  I have talked about this point thoroughly. False alarm fines are on the rise. You can discover why and how it affects you in my video and article on that very subject.

That is because of remote central monitoring stations automatically reporting alarms without being able to effectively verify if there is a real threat to your home.

However, if the people you know and trust are notified instead (like neighbors, friends, and family, as well as yourself), then they can check and call in real burglaries as an eyewitness account.

If police cannot respond to an alarm in under 10 minutes, they add nothing to the equation of catching a burglar in the act. Anyone attempting to burglarize a home is gone within minutes of the siren sounding. That in conjunction with the fact that 95% of alarm activations are not the result of an attempted burglary has caused many cities and counties to discourage alarm companies from calling them on these activations by charging response fees for unnecessary responses. Blockwatch alarm does not notify the police depart. It notifies the people you know and trust, and have selected on your online dashboard. This eliminates any “false alarm” charges.

“9. Burglars know that police response times are slow.”

Alarm Professor: Although experience has not shown us that the slow police response has lead to increased successful burglaries, notifying a neighbor on your call list can allow them to have an eyewitness view to your home within 30 seconds. In the event of an actual burglary this can enable police to have a description of people or vehicles at the scene of the crime before they leave. A central monitoring station can’t do that, but a neighborhood solution like Blockwatch Alarm can.

“10. If you’re a dog owner, they provide little added value.  Man’s best friend can protect your home just as well as a modern alarm system — if not better.”

Alarm Professor:  Now this inexperienced rant is starting to get ridiculous.

Dogs are good pets and might provide a deterrent, but they don’t do as effective a job as an alarm system. Alarm systems dependably notify someone of a break in while dogs do not. (Alarm systems don’t have to be fed, walked or be followed around with a plastic bag either!) Unless they are specifically trained to be guard dogs, they are not even dependable deterrents, especially if they are skittish, friendly, small, or easily persuaded by treats. Whose scared of a yipping but adorable little dog?

If you are on Blockwatch Alarm monitoring, your neighbors are far more powerful than your dogs. A person can see what is happening, and report eyewitness accounts to police and report details of thieves or vehicles. Maybe more importantly, they can make sure your home is taken care of immediately after a break in. I have yet to hear of a dog closing and locking doors and windows, or taking care of damage. They are more likely to cause it!

“11. They won’t work during an extended power outage.”

Alarm Professor:  So does your fire alarm work in an extended power outage, assuming you even have a working battery in it? It is true that alarm systems normally have back-up power for 20 – 26 hours. How often have you had a power outage longer than a day? If it ever happens, in that rare event, the solution is easy – replace the batteries! This is sufficient for normal outages but there are other longer power supply options if needed.

“12. They’re fairly easy to disable. Never mind that they’re no match for professional burglars. Amateur thieves can neutralize them too if the lone connection point to the monitoring center is via a phone line that can be easily cut.”

Alarm Professor: This is just plain nonsense. Alarm systems are not easily disabled. While a conventional phone line or VOIP phone can be disabled if you are determined enough, there are many cell phone options that simply have no wires to cut! In any event, the disabling of the communications does not disable the alarm system itself, or the siren it emits. Typically, that will be the last thing they are worrying about. They are worrying about getting out as quickly as possible!

“13. They’re not effective against snatch-and-grab burglaries. Most criminals strike quickly because that decreases their risk of being caught.”

Alarm Professor:  Although snatch and grab occasionally happens in a commercial environment, it it not the MO for residential burglaries. Burglars have to gain entry and then have to move about through the house to scout out their target items. A basic alarm system is activated as or shortly after they gain access to the home. They often leave immediately without taking any items as they don’t want to risk it when they can move on to a home without a security system to worry about.

“14. They’re not foolproof.  After all, monitored home security systems work only if you remember to activate them.”

Alarm Professor:  And seatbelts only work if you put them on. What is the point here?  Don’t get an alarm because you will have to turn it on?

Most of the time, an alarm system is peace of mind. Talk to people who have had their homes broken into, and you’ll understand the feeling. An alarm system gives you back some control.

Do you really want your beloved pooch as your defense against thieving scumbags? Do you forego health insurance because it’s not perfect?

Of course not.

A decent alarm system with a monitoring service like Blockwatch Alarm monitoring means you know right when your home is broken into. When the sirens go off, the thieves will be running for easier pickings in another home without an alarm system. They don’t want to risk it when there are plenty of unprotected homes around.

And the author completely ignored emergency fire and medical services altogether, an easy addition to the home alarm designed for break-ins.

Sometimes it takes that first break in of your home to really understand what an alarm system can do for you and your family.