It happens on a regular basis; a burglar with a $3 pair of wire cutters or a screw driver simply cuts or disconnects the phone line of an “old-school” alarm system. And once that link is gone, the traditional alarm system has no way to send an alarm signal to the monitoring station. That means no police dispatch, and the intruder has the run of your home. Not exactly what you call peace of mind.
This turn of events is exactly what occurred recently in Sausalito, California. The homeowner is none too happy. Can you blame him?
Sausalito Police are warning homeowners their security systems may not be as secure as they think. A burglary Sunday afternoon on Cloud View Road exposed a weak link in the communication systems of some security companies. The home that was burglarized had a home security system, but the burglar or burglars were able access the utility box outside the home and unplug the phone jack for the security system, without the security company being aware the system was disabled.
That’s the sad irony of this situation: once the phone line is no longer there, there is no way for many alarm systems to communicate. And many people think that the phone company or alarm company somehow knows when the phone connection is gone – but that is not the case.
Police Also Misread Traditional Technology
Sausalito Police Officer Nick White investigated the burglary and contacted the security company to find out what time the burglary occurred. "And they told me there was no record of it, and they don't keep records of the hard line disconnects," said White. "I was very surprised and I was more surprised they didn't have a record at all, or a time stamp of when the disconnection would have occurred."
That’s because the alarm company does not know when the disconnect occurred. That type of technology is cost-prohibitive, and is rarely used in a home security environment – but homeowners (and even police) somehow believe that the phone line is constantly monitored. It’s not.
Homeowner Rightly Concerned
Police aren't revealing the name of the security company while officers investigate the crime. "The fact that an alarm can be disarmed from the outside and not notify the police station or not notify the protection company is something I think we all have to be aware of," said Cloud View Road resident, Mark Grace. "I actually did have a small break-in and fortunately my alarm did go off. It actually scared the perpetrator out of the house right away, so I was glad that I did have an alarm."
Cellular Monitoring is Safer
However, Grace said burglaries have been on the rise in his neighborhood, and homeowners have been having meetings about it. The street is lined with "Neighborhood Watch", "Video Surveillance", and various home security company signs. "I'm not feeling very secure right now," said Grace, who is moving to Mill Valley, and already considering his home security system there. Police say they want homeowners to know how the recent burglary happened to they can arm themselves with information by asking their utility and security companies how secure their utility boxes and security systems are, and consider a wireless security system if it works for their households.
In this context, the term “wireless” means cellular, and refers to how the alarm system communicates to the central monitoring station. And there is no question that cellular monitoring is the safest and most reliable method for protecting your home from intruders.
As more homeowners add monitored home security for peace of mind – especially with advanced interactive features that allow you to feel connected as well as protected - it just makes sense to be sure you have the right technology.
When you are shopping for home security, insist on cellular monitoring. It should not cost you more, and it’s worth it. Say good-bye to old school alarm technology!