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How Do Burglars Disable Alarms? Learn the Tricks from a Real Thief!

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How Do Burglars Disable Alarms? Learn the Tricks from a Real Thief!
April 3, 2012
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How Do Burglars Disable Alarms? Learn the Tricks from a Real Thief!

This blog was update on January 31, 2020 with new product information.


Frontpoint’s security professionals are experts in their field, but sometimes it's useful to engage a less conventional resource. And who better than a burglar to teach you about protecting your home from theft? KSAT, a San Antonio news station, interviewed a former thief who dished professional burglar secrets, including how he would disable a home alarm from the outside.

KSAT reported, “He was a thief for over a decade, robbing houses for a quick payday. His first name is Mark, and he doesn’t want his last name known. Mark said he’s probably broken into more than 100 houses.”

The news station chose a random house and tasked Mark with figuring out “exactly how he would rob the home and show what the homeowner is doing right—and doing wrong.”

How a thief

chooses which home to target

Keeping up with the Joneses may seem like a harmless neighborhood competition, but burglars take note of home appearances. When Mark was assessing the home, he noted, “Homes that show valuables, whether it be nice toys in the yard or expensive furniture on the porch, suggest nicer stuff inside.”

A person’s online presence can also tip off a thief. “Social media helps, too. Someone who writes that they’re ‘on vacation’ makes their house an easy target,” Mark said. In fact, avoiding social media is our number-one tip for keeping your home safe while on vacation.

How do burglars

disable alarms?

Next, Mark set out to disable the home’s security system. Since the family was using a traditional alarm system that relies on a phone line, Mark explained that he would disable it by simply cutting the wire, rendering the system useless.

“I try to cut the main wires to the power supply, and after that, the telephone wires. Most alarm systems send a signal through phone lines when someone breaks in.”

While a home invader can’t cut alarm wires to disable a wireless alarm system, there is a tactic called “crash and smash” whereby a thief could “crash” into your house via a window or door and “smash” your security system before the alarm company can be notified.

But with a smash-proof system like the Frontpoint Hub and Keypad, the alarm company will still be notified—even if the system has been completely destroyed. The Hub and Keypad also feature an encrypted connection, further bolstering your home’s privacy and protection.

Frontpoint tracks when your system is armed, and when your sensor-equipped doors open or close. If a door opens and the armed alarm is not activated, Frontpoint can tell that something has interfered with the system.

Another way criminals may try to defeat burglar alarms is through wireless alarm jammers. These very expensive devices are sometimes able to block cellular signals, such as the ones used in wireless home security systems. But due to the high cost of cell jammers, wire cutters are still the tool of choice for thieves.

Finally, a thief may be able to bypass your security system if the backup battery is dead. Control panels are typically plugged in and have a backup battery in case of an electric outage. You don't have to worry about your security system immediately dying each time a summer storm knocks the power out, though, since backup batteries can last for extended periods.

Tips for how

to prevent a burglary

In the scenario with KSAT, the ex-thief was able to “break” into the home and take valuables - TVs, jewelry, bank statements, and more. 

Mark notes, “...make it difficult for a thief. Crooks typically take the path of least resistance, and if you make your house a hard target, criminals will pass it up.”

Follow these tips for burglary prevention:

Check your front and side doors for potential weaknesses

Ensure burglars can’t kick your doors open or lift sliding doors out of their tracks. Door and window sensors and glass break sensors as part of a home security system add extra layers of protection.

Schedule light timers or smart-light scenes

Using light timers on a daily basis makes it look like you are home, even on the days you need to work late. But, the lights should not be constantly on—that can actually attract burglars! Your lights need to make your home look lived-in by mirroring how people really use lights.

Put your valuables out of sight

Don’t flaunt your valuables around your yard or inside your house. Use window treatments or curtains to hide the inside of your home from potential burglars. Put high-value items (such as electronics and jewelry) in a secure, discreet location when you aren’t using them. Personal documents and bank records should be placed in a hidden safe for extra security.

Use a home security system

A home security package with a central hub, sensors, cameras, and professional monitoring scares off would-be burglars. Frontpoint’s DIY security system allows you to easily add smart locks and doorbell cameras for additional layers of protection.

Picture of the Frontpoint Safe Home Preferred Security PackagePicture of the Frontpoint Safe Home Preferred Security Package

Frontpoint keeps homes safe whether families are there or not. 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.

Get safer, smarter home security

Packages starting at $99 + FREE Doorbell Camera

300 off
Comments
Dilaney
April 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM
Sadly, this information just confirms the fact that criminals don't have to be the sharpest knives in the kitchen drawer in order to break into your home and attempt to disable your alarm system. “I try to cut the main wires to the power supply, and after that the telephone wires,” Mark (the former burglar) is quoted as saying "of his technique". Really? What does cutting the power lines to an alarm system which has a back up battery accomplish? Unless of course, you then wait several hours for the entire system to go completely dead. I guess Mark just got lucky in "figuring out" on his own that he should cut the telephone lines before entering homes that he intends to rob. Fortunately, an alarm system with wireless communication to the monitoring station will foil Mark and the obviously MUCH smarter criminals who actually do understand how security systems work.
Peter M. Rogers
April 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM
Dilaney - excellent point. The main issue is cutting the phone line or internet connection, since that is still how the great majority of alarm systems communicate to the monitoring center. As for the power, bear in mind that most alarm companies use the 4-hour battery that is all UL requires. It's not unusual for a burglar who cuts lines (phone and power) to try back in a few hours, by which time the system no longer functions. In the old days, many alarm companies programmed their system to send signals on loss of AC power or low battery - but that has changed, sadly. Now it's all about efficiency and having as little contact with the subscriber as possible. One of the reasons we like FrontPoint's combination is that the GE Security systems all have a 24-hour battery built-in, vs. the 4-hour battery used by default by ADT and others. Also, with our advanced interactive monitoring services, our subscribers get a text or email any time their FrontPoint system loses power - and when power comes back. That makes for much greater peace of mind. When you add Alarm.com's patented "Smash & Crash" protection, it's easy to see why we say our systems are virtually impossible to defeat. Thanks for your comment.
Dilaney
April 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM
Sadly, this information just confirms the fact that criminals don't have to be the sharpest knives in the kitchen drawer in order to break into your home and attempt to disable your alarm system. “I try to cut the main wires to the power supply, and after that the telephone wires,” Mark (the former burglar) is quoted as saying "of his technique". Really? What does cutting the power lines to an alarm system which has a back up battery accomplish? Unless of course, you then wait several hours for the entire system to go completely dead. I guess Mark just got lucky in "figuring out" on his own that he should cut the telephone lines before entering homes that he intends to rob. Fortunately, an alarm system with wireless communication to the monitoring station will foil Mark and the obviously MUCH smarter criminals who actually do understand how security systems work.
Peter M. Rogers
April 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM
Dilaney - excellent point. The main issue is cutting the phone line or internet connection, since that is still how the great majority of alarm systems communicate to the monitoring center. As for the power, bear in mind that most alarm companies use the 4-hour battery that is all UL requires. It's not unusual for a burglar who cuts lines (phone and power) to try back in a few hours, by which time the system no longer functions. In the old days, many alarm companies programmed their system to send signals on loss of AC power or low battery - but that has changed, sadly. Now it's all about efficiency and having as little contact with the subscriber as possible. One of the reasons we like FrontPoint's combination is that the GE Security systems all have a 24-hour battery built-in, vs. the 4-hour battery used by default by ADT and others. Also, with our advanced interactive monitoring services, our subscribers get a text or email any time their FrontPoint system loses power - and when power comes back. That makes for much greater peace of mind. When you add Alarm.com's patented "Smash & Crash" protection, it's easy to see why we say our systems are virtually impossible to defeat. Thanks for your comment.
Alan Draper
April 5, 2012 at 5:03 AM
Good and comments. Also, great tip to lock the power box coming into the house. I plan to look into that. I do like that my FP system gives power out and back up alerts. It is very valuable info while away. I also greatly appreciate the long standby time.
Peter M. Rogers
April 5, 2012 at 1:33 PM
Thanks, Alan. We like the fact that GE Security uses the 24-hour battery in every alarm control panel they make - one more reason why we use GE Security equipment. It happens that the National Fire Code (NFPA 72) requires the 24 hour-hour battery in any single or two-family home that has even one smoke or heat sensor included in the system. That's right: according to the National Fire Code, adding even one monitored fire detection device to an intrusion system makes it a fire alarm, technically speaking - and the requirement for the 24-hour battery comes into play. Want to take a wild guess how many residential alarm system have at least one smoke or heat sensor, but still use the 4-hour battery? I'd bet millions of home alarm systems are violating the National Fire Code right now - and they were installed by the biggest names in the business.
Alan Draper
April 5, 2012 at 5:03 AM
Good and comments. Also, great tip to lock the power box coming into the house. I plan to look into that. I do like that my FP system gives power out and back up alerts. It is very valuable info while away. I also greatly appreciate the long standby time.
Peter M. Rogers
April 5, 2012 at 1:33 PM
Thanks, Alan. We like the fact that GE Security uses the 24-hour battery in every alarm control panel they make - one more reason why we use GE Security equipment. It happens that the National Fire Code (NFPA 72) requires the 24 hour-hour battery in any single or two-family home that has even one smoke or heat sensor included in the system. That's right: according to the National Fire Code, adding even one monitored fire detection device to an intrusion system makes it a fire alarm, technically speaking - and the requirement for the 24-hour battery comes into play. Want to take a wild guess how many residential alarm system have at least one smoke or heat sensor, but still use the 4-hour battery? I'd bet millions of home alarm systems are violating the National Fire Code right now - and they were installed by the biggest names in the business.
Alan Draper
April 5, 2012 at 5:05 AM
Supposed to be "Good ARTICLE and comments"...
Peter M. Rogers
April 5, 2012 at 1:26 PM
Ah - thanks. I thought that was what you meant. Appreciate your comments here, as always.
Alan Draper
April 5, 2012 at 5:05 AM
Supposed to be "Good ARTICLE and comments"...
Peter M. Rogers
April 5, 2012 at 1:26 PM
Ah - thanks. I thought that was what you meant. Appreciate your comments here, as always.
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