This post was originally published in April 2014. It was updated in March 2020.
A Frontpoint customer presented us with this question on Facebook:
“My area has had several burglaries, and police report the thieves are using jammers to prevent alarm systems from accessing a cellular signal while they burglarize the houses. Is my Frontpoint system susceptible to this type of device?”
Questions about Wi-Fi or cellular monitoring and its reliability in the presence of a jammer have popped up more often in recent years. And this continues to be a question for those with (or considering) a wireless home security system.
A jammer is an illegal device that blocks wireless signals using radio wave frequencies. Under the Communications Act of 1934, using one is considered a form of property theft. More importantly, these devices could prevent someone from calling 911 in the event of an emergency or crime. While the use of jammers is illegal in the United States, it has not stopped some people from using them.
In this blog, we discuss the types of jammers, how jammers impact home security systems, and how to protect your home.
Types of jammers
There are three types of jammers used to block different types of wireless signals:
Cellular jammers specifically block cellular signals, meaning cellular devices. If a jammer is active, your cell phone will not have a network signal.
Wi-Fi jammers create a frequency to block Wi-Fi connections and disable devices “from connecting to 3G, 4G, GPRS, or cordless Wi-Fi networks.”
GPS jammers block satellite frequencies. GPS jammers are less relevant for home security systems but often used to deflect surveillance or spying.
Regardless of the type of frequency used, some burglars may try to use a wireless security camera jammer to block security cameras.
jammers impact home security systems
Jammers can disrupt the signals of cellular and Wi-Fi-based home security systems. Your cameras and sensors will not break, but the ability of the sensors to transmit a signal will be limited. This probably is not the answer you wanted to hear—but home security is unlikely to be impacted.
There’s a reason both new and old home alarm companies are choosing wireless technology. Here’s why:
Real burglaries versus Hollywood
Hollywood movies and television often portray burglaries as pre-determined, meticulously planned, and skillfully executed events. In reality, these crimes are rarely carefully orchestrated. The vast majority of burglaries are random, opportunistic acts.
Additionally, burglars are much more likely to be carrying wire cutters, a hammer, or a screwdriver (all easily accessible household items) rather than a security camera jammer. As we mentioned, jammers are illegal for commercial use in the U.S. Although burglars have a disregard for the law, taking the step of obtaining or creating a jammer is expensive, complicated, and likely not worth the risk.
Jammers are not reliable
If a burglar chooses to use a jammer instead of wire cutters, hammers, or screwdrivers, there is no guarantee it will work.
The cellular or Wi-Fi frequencies found in home security systems vary from provider to provider and model to model. Some belong to different carriers, while others feature newer technology—and technology is continuously changing. The burglar would need to match the security system frequency exactly to block the signal.
Additionally, jammers have a limited range based on their quality. Expensive jammers have a longer range than more-affordable jammers—and a burglar would be more likely to buy a cheap jammer if they bother to buy one at all. If a customer places their security system hub in a recommended location— away from doors and windows—a burglar will have a hard time knowing if they’re in range for the jammer to work.
And as a burglar lurks outside waiting for a jammer to work, you are more likely to capture them on a security camera.
security is secure
There are a lot of reasons why a burglar simply won't make an effort to lug a security camera jammer around the neighborhood. The combination of planning, unreliability, and high price make it extremely difficult to justify the tactic—especially when standard household tools are (unfortunately) often more effective.
We understand that our customers and home security shoppers are concerned with jammers. And we hear you! We do everything we can to give you peace of mind—not only by providing the best cellular DIY security system available but also by giving you the information you need.
Frontpoint makes life easier and more efficient. We've been revolutionizing the home security industry for over a decade. And we're just getting started. To shop DIY home security systems, check out our Security Packages. If you have questions or would like to discuss a quote, contact us at 1-877-602-5276.