Home Security Services: Help or Hindrance?

What are your thoughts on all the home security systems out there? Honeywell, ADT and other security companies, the systems offered by the cable companies, and the do-it-yourself kits. What’s good, what’s bad, what should be avoided like the plague.
I own my own home, single level.

My do-it-yourself system involves deadbolts, good window locks, and an alarm system that poops in the backyard and likes to have his back scratched.

Noise and time are the best deterrents to a home break-in, if that is what you are concerned about. The locks provide the time, the dog takes care of the noise. Very few burglars will persist in the face of a good loud “BOWOWOWOWOWOWOW!!!”

The first owners of our house had ADT - we never bothered re-upping the service, since our neighborhood is low-crime and about half a mile from the police station anyway.


I live in a neighborhood full of loud dogs that don’t seem to effect the crime rate any…but do seem to encourage each other’s barking. No thank you.

A dog in the house, woofing and snarling at anybody thinking about stepping over the threshold or through the window, is much more effective than one in the back yard. It doesn’t even have to be a dog that makes a lot of noise, as long as s/he makes themselves visible at the right time.

Talk to your local LEOs and find out what their policy is on home security alarms. In some locales, false alarms are such a problem that home security alarms receive the lowest possible priority, which means by the time the law shows up, the bad guys have had enough time to clean you out, fence your goods and chattels, and spend most of their ill-gotten gains. Central station monitoring in those towns basically lets you know to head home to repair the damage and compile a list of what’s gone.

A dog in the house is not an option.

False alarms are such a real problem that the alarm may notify the police, the police check back with the alarm company for a verify or cancel, then send someone around to check it out.

Usually it is a baby sitter who doesn’t know the access code, a plumber who is working on the house, a dog, etc.

The police do not get real excited about these alarms, but they will send someone around eventually to find your body. Hey, at least it won’t sit smoldering in a hot summer house all alone for weeks.

Security varies depending on what types of crimes are being committed in your neighborhood and your personal needs.

Perhaps cameras and signs will be all that is needed? Maybe physical security - bars on windows and good quality locks? Maybe an alarm system with just a local siren which sounds. Or maybe an alarm system which is monitored and also has medical alert and wireless panic buttons?

So far as the big alarm companies, they are bigger crooks than those they claim to protect you from! They are only interested in monthly monitoring fees and a contract which will lock you into paying for a couple of years - automatically renews - small window for you to cancel - best to cancel in writing via certified mail.

I would recommend checking with your police department and seeing what specific crimes are happening in your area. See what security they suggest. Also check with your insurance company - see what security they recommend. Insurance companies are very good at making recommendations which will keep people from needing to file claims - thus will give excellent security advice!

What are the threats against which you wish to guard?

Than again, nothing trumps a buried nuke on a 30 second timer. :smiley:

P.S. Check with your local Neighborhood watch (via police department) for suggestions. Like motion activated lights, cut back bushes so people can see your house, place locks on gates, etc. Following are some more suggestions.

Search google.com for the following words…

Basic Home Target Hardening

I agree about talking to your insurance company, they probably have a recommendation. And I’d also say get quotes from different companies. I was recommended Smith Thompson, which is a company just in Texas but they have great rates, compared to the other companies I talked to which were much higher. If you’re not in Texas then Smith Thompson isn’t an option for you, but there’s probably a cheaper alternative than ADT or one of the other big ones.

I’ll give this a shot when I get home tonight.

Home security systems though are much better than dogs when it comes to fires. A garage or even kitchen smoke detector might not be heard in a distant bedroom, but with a central alarm everything can go off.

We have one, but I don’t think we need one. The real use is that my husband sleeps better with one. He has shockingly good hearing so he notices every creak and noise during the night. With the alarm he is more at ease to not worry and go back to sleep.

We have to be extra careful not to burn dinner though.

On the other hand, with no alarm no one is going to call the police at all until I get home and realize that my house was robbed six hours ago.

We have an alarm because my wife wanted one. I have no idea how “well” it works at contacting the police since we’ve never had an intruder. I suppose the lawn sign and window stickers may make burglars consider the house next door as slightly less risky than ours. Likewise, whether the police are electronically contacted or not, a loud BEEPBEEPBEEP at 2am should give me a heads up that something ain’t right.

If I lived on my own I wouldn’t bother but it makes my wife happy and I suppose it averages to “probably better than nothing”.


Somewhere north of 90% is the statistics for false alarms from home security systems. That means if the system calls the police, it will likely be a false alarm. More and more, municipalities are assessing fines for false alarms. Used to be, they would require an annual licensing fee for alarm systems but they are finding that it costs too much to keep up with the licenses and that a fee for a false alarm is a high deterrent for repeat false alarms.

The typical response time to a home alarm is around 20 minutes (or more). A crook can move a lot of loot into a car trunk in 10 minutes and be miles away before the cops arrive.

The cost of the system and monitoring is likely to be more than your insurance deductible. Add to that, you’ll have to pay that deductible anyway if you do get burglarized. Making your insurance coverage is adequate (including riders for jewelry and/or silver and other valuables) is going to be much more cost effective.

If you decide you need a security system, go 21st century with it. Get one that will work through the internet, network with your thermostat and lights, will capture video and record it to “the cloud” and will e-mail you on an alarm. If you have your phone with you 24/7, you probably won’t need a monitoring service. Many systems are now wireless, so you can set-up sensors on the doors (and windows, if you like) yourself and only have to pay for the equipment. If you can hook up a home computer network and a home entertainment system, you can probably do it yourself (although mounting video cameras might be a bit more tricky).

If I was to start from scratch, I think that is what I would do. We have a ADT system that was here when we bought the house. I don’t pay monitoring, I have it programmed to call my cell phone if it alarms. It’s 20th century technology, but it’s paid for and it probably more than we need.