Criminals Say Having No Alarm System Makes Your Home More Attractive
A recent survey of burglars in Perth’s main gaol has revealed criminals specifically target vulnerable homes. The men, currently held in the Perth Watch House, told researchers from the Australian Institute of Criminology that ‘they looked for properties without barking dogs or alarm systems, ones that looked vacant, were hidden from the road or had vegetation to shield them from their neighbours,’ reported The West Australian.
According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, burglary declined by 49 per cent between 2001 and 2009. To investigate what was causing the drop, researchers headed out to interview 994 police detainees in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, the Northern Territory and Perth, Western Australia.
All were asked: “Can you think of any reasons why property crime has decreased over the last 10 years?”
Of the 470 participants who answered, 31 per cent said improved security was the most likely cause of lower rates of property burglary.
Since a major report into burglary prevention back in 1995, experts have continually professed that the vast majority of prospective burglars are opportunistic, and will target homes where there is minimal risk of them being detected during the course of an offence.
Table from: The ‘oldest tricks in the book’ don’t work! Reports of burglary by DUMA detainees in Western Australia, Australian Institute of Criminology, October 2014
Burglars know how to spot a fake home security system
Research into the methods and motivations of burglars involved with the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia program in WA, found that while the presence of a home alarm was a deterrent, it was only effective when the home alarm system was turned on.
‘The sample of active burglars were aware of fake alarm systems, fake security systems and fake cameras, none of which deterred them. Rather, they presented a further indication of a property with weak security. Insurance companies also acknowledge the increase in deterrence that active alarm systems provide, offering discounted premiums to those who have them installed’ – Reports of burglary by DUMA detainees in Western Australia, AIC, 2014.
Poorly installed alarm systems are ineffective
A recent spate of home burglaries across an affluent Melbourne suburb demonstrates just how important a well-installed alarm system is. A sophisticated ring of burglars escaped with more than $4 million in jewellery and cash after robbing 70 homes in the north-eastern suburb of Manningham.
Detective Senior Sergeant Matt Volk said, “The majority of these burglaries had been occurring on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings between 6pm and 10pm.”
“In many cases, alarms have been disabled or ripped off the walls completely.”
You’d hope that your security system wouldn’t be rendered completely ineffective by such a simple and obvious action. But the reality is that all too often cheap and poorly installed alarm systems win out in a self-regulated industry fighting for compliance.
Victoria Police released CCTV images of burglars during the robbery of a Donvale home in April. (Victoria Police)
How the security industry is failing consumers when it comes to intruder alarm systems
A 2009 report by the Security Research Centre found that a number of home alarm systems failed to even meet Australian Standards. Their findings included:
- A significant number of current security installers either don’t comply or don’t understand the applied Australian Standard 2201
- The security industry’s licensing regime is ineffective in providing compliant intruder alarm system installers
- The security industry’s self-regulation fails to maintain compliance.
When it came to alarm panels, the research found:
- 18% of control panels (the brains of the security system) were improperly located outside the protected area
- 15% were located within the entry/exit point and could be sabotaged before they detected an intrusion
- 46% per cent of panels were not capable of proper end-of-line supervision, meaning sensors could be easily defeated.
Australian Standards are based on World’s Best Practice for security systems in homes and commercial premises. Whilst most of the Standards’ requirements are straightforward, a lack of industry understanding allows for very poor installations to take place. Worse still, the typical end-user has no understanding of what’s required in security system installation and often only finds out the hard way that their system was not up to scratch.
Quick installation: It’s cheap, but at what cost?
Cheap, all-in-one alarm systems are low-cost, marketed as ‘easy to install’ and often completely ineffective at securing your home. In fact, a ‘false sense of security’ is often worse than no security. At least with no security you know where you stand rather than having the wrong idea and learning too late that your security had failed.
These cheap alarms typically combine the keypad, control panel and siren. Most of the major security manufacturers have their own version of this product. Whilst they can be installed correctly, the apparent ‘simple’ nature of the product has led to some very poor installation practices, not only by ‘DIYers’ but even full-time installers.
So how do they fail the consumer?
Alarm systems come with an ‘entry delay time’, which allows you to open your door and type in a security code to the keypad before setting the alarm off. When a burglar breaks into your home, they’re awarded this same grace period. If they break in through the front door and are greeted with an “all-in-one” security system, they simply have to rip the entire unit off the wall before the alarm can send its first signal – leaving your home completely unprotected.
This is likely how criminals in Melbourne were able to make off with over $3 million in jewellery from a single home – an incident that demonstrates how even the most affluent homeowners can be misinformed about their home security investment.
What defines a good home alarm system?
Good home alarm systems start with proper installation by a licensed security professional. Your installer should ensure that:
1. The ‘control panel’ is mounted as far away from the ‘entry area’ as possible, such that a criminal cannot get near the control panel and disable it without it first having an opportunity to send a signal calling for help. This typically means using a remotely located keypad or wireless device to arm/disarm the system, rather than the keypad built in to the alarm control panel itself.
2. The siren is located away from the control panel, so that a burglar can’t simply follow the sound or make an educated guess to locate and dismantle your alarm panel.
3. The alarm system isn’t monitored via your phone line, which can be cut in the street or near the alarm panel rendering it offline. Rather, modern IP Monitoring systems are used to ‘poll’ the system and check for a regular heartbeat, the absence of which can also indicate sabotage. That is, your security system can’t die quietly if it is attacked. In small premises where there may not be enough space to mount the control panel away from the entry area, it is possible to mount an IP communication module elsewhere, so that even if the main control panel can’t be protected and it is attacked, a monitoring centre can still be notified of the breach. Want to know more about home alarm monitoring works? Take a look at our back-to-base alarm monitoring graphic.
Why is home alarm monitoring important?
Home security without alarm monitoring is like bread without butter – it’s only half way there. And it’s on us if we fail to invest in all the tools needed to get the job done properly.
The surveyed prisoners of Perth highlight something very important: when we fail to adopt newer and better security technology, we’re actively weakening our home’s defences. Criminals know a fake alarm system when they see one. And of course they don’t deter them! They just make your home even more of a target. Find out more about alarm monitoring for both homes and businesses here.
In less than 10 years we’ve gone from VHS, to DVD, to Blu-Ray, to live streaming. Yet many of us still rely on a 20-year-old home security system to protect us.
Home security has come a long way in the past two decades – it works better and, with better-trained operators and the introduction of IP monitoring, it’s ultimately more economical. Yet we’ve failed to adopt modern alarm monitoring technology despite the fact it can save us money, save our homes, and help protect us if we’re at risk. But it’s not just the technology that has changed, the way we live has, too. And it’s in the creation of security systems that complement our way of living that Calamity excel.
As our communities and lifestyles change, our approach to home security has to change, too.
We no longer live in each other’s pockets and doorways. Many of us may not even know our neighbour’s names. As such, we don’t know if it’s Bob’s alarm ringing out down the road. We just hear an annoying noise and wish it would stop.
And we have all been there. Wearied once again by the improperly installed home alarm, impossibly sensitive, sounding constantly despite there being no threat. We no longer jump into action. Instead we moan, close our windows and wish that our neighbours spent less time whiling away the weekends at their coastal holiday home. That home could be being robbed, but that happy discovery we leave for the resident to make upon their return.
In an age where we travel more than ever, professional 24/7 alarm monitoring ensures your home is protected no matter where you are in the world. A small fire can be detected and extinguished whether you’re in Byron Bay, Tuscany or up at the shops. A break-and-enter can be stopped, by our professionally trained monitoring operators, before it ever even starts – they can detect when someone has entered your property and dispatch a security patrol if they perceive a threat. It is the final piece of the security puzzle.
No one wants to return to their home to find it’s been robbed, damaged, or up in flames. We don’t want to be paying for patrol cars sent out to defend against false alarms from badly installed security systems. And none of us really want to be the neighbour whose alarm goes off way too often. Calamity’s highly-trained professional alarm monitoring operators, and ASIAL A-graded monitoring centre are primed to meet burglars head-on.
Ready to find out more about Calamity’s home security and alarm monitoring services? Call us today for a free quote.