Alarm systems can be rather useful in a home, but much like insurance, they come at a cost if you never use them. People often wonder about the benefit of an alarm system versus the monthly cost of such a system. Many homes these days come pre-wired for security systems, so what’s a new homeowner to do? Have the system hooked up and monitored for a monthly fee or just hope for the best? Are alarm systems effective at stopping criminals from entering your home? What alarm monitoring company should I use?
Should I get an alarm system with monitoring and is it effective?
To pay a fee or not, that is the question. First, let’s discuss the alarm – whether it involves door and window chimes, motion detectors, video cameras, or glass shatter sensors – the obvious function is to make a ton of noise and scare off any would be burglars, and if you’re paying for monitoring, to notify the police that an alarm event has occurred. When the alarm sounds, the burglar has two options – ignore it and soldier on or run like hell in case anyone shows up.
In talking with police officers over the years, I’ve learned that most professional burglars aren’t afraid of the alarms. While the alarm may bring the neighbor out to look around, the truth is most of us ignore alarms these days. Since the pros know what they’re doing, they can be in and out before that alarm attracts any real attention.
So what about monitoring? Paying a company to “listen” in and report alarm events to the police seems like the logical solution. For a monthly fee, most companies will provide monitoring (and some will even provide security patrols to respond to the alarm). Once again, the professionals have a distinct advantage, knowing that the police are often busy and can take up to an hour to respond. If you know what you’re looking for, you could take a lot out of a home in much less than an hour.
Which alarm company should I choose?
Personally, I’ve had good experience with the big national companies (ADT and Brinks to be specific – which are now both owned under the ADT name), but it really depends on your budget and needs. Most companies will perform a basic install or “takeover” (if you already have the system, but need monitoring), but you should consider the various pieces of any system – how many contact points, motion detectors, etc. will they install and how much to monitor them (the more items to monitor, the more it costs). Some local companies offer security patrols and armed response, so check with neighbors and friends to see who they use and trust. The better your security system and response time, the better your chances of avoiding being burglarized.
Remember, if you do experience a break in, exit your home immediately and call the police. Do not touch anything (hopefully the police will be able to gather some evidence).
image courtesy of jepoirrier