Important Things To Look For
In A Residential Alarm System
An alarm system must have a reliable power supply. The most dependability is provided by a system that operates on household electric power, with emergency backup power provided by a battery to assure operation during power interruption. A rechargeable means of automatically reporting battery failure should be included. A service and maintenance contract that includes automatic battery replacement is highly desirable.
- Some visual or audible signal should be provided to notify or alert the homeowner of a malfunction in the system prior to operation.
- Any components that can turn the system on or off or render it otherwise inoperative or ineffective should be tamper resistant.
- All components and installation methods should meet the requirements of all applicable local standards, regulations and codes.
- An installed alarm system should carry a warranty covering parts and labor, from both the manufacturer and installer for a period of no less than one year from the date of installation.
- The installation company should by contract be required to provide service and repairs on a prompt basis.
- Upon installation of an alarm system, the homeowner should be thoroughly knowledgeable of what it does and what it does not do. They should be made familiar with all the details of operating the system and receive verbal as well as written instructions covering all possible circumstances involving the alarm system.
Selecting The Right Alarm Company
The alarm installation field is one of the country’s fastest growing industries. While there are many experienced, reputable and reliable alarm installation companies, there are also those that are less than reputable and who will take advantage of the homeowner.
An alarm installation company should ideally be well established and have a verifiable record of successful operation. To check on an alarm installation company, the homeowner can possibly contact the local police and fire departments, the Better Business Bureau, the Consumer Protection Agency or the Chamber of Commerce. This background checking should be done before the company is invited into the home.
Employees of an alarm installation company who have access to a home should be bonded. It is also advisable to obtain a list of satisfied customers and to contact them directly.
The earliest “alarm systems” used by man to detect intruders were his animals. An alarm, after all, is basically a device to discover the presence of an intruder and sound a warning —— a dog may possibly be a good alternative for this purpose. A noisy, little dog can be a very inexpensive, very effective intrusion detection alarm. Food, water and affection can produce an alert, mobile, self contained alarm system which may be as effective as an electronic home alarm.
Each home should ideally have a security closet, for storage of firearms, silver, cameras, coin collections, etc., within it. This closet should have load bearing walls on as many sides as possible. Heavy plywood should be installed on the inside (plasterboard) walls. The security closet should have a solid core door, a heavy duty deadbolt, high security strike and non-removable hinge pins. If the home has an alarm system, the closet door or interior should be alarmed.
If a homeowner utilizes a safe for securing money or valuables, the safe should have a Underwriters Laboratories (UL) burglary resistant label on it. This UL label means that the safe model has been tested to resist attacks of a specific nature for a certain number of minutes,
Fire resistant chests and files also have UL ratings which indicate an endurance to fire in minutes or hours. Many people do not know the difference between fire resistant safes or chests and money safes.
Safe Deposit Boxes
Homeowners should be strongly encouraged to rent a safe deposit box in which to store: 1) compact items of extreme value, such as diamonds or others expensive jewelry, heirlooms, and stamp and coin collections; 2) flammable documents such as legal papers, certificates, stocks and bonds, insurance policies, contracts and inventory and photos of household goods. Depending upon the special needs of the homeowner, the following is a list of the type of documents that should be stored in a rented band safe deposit box:
- Stock and bond certificates
- Income tax records
- Mortgages, property titles and deeds
- Health records
- Birth, marriage and death certificates
- Insurance policies
- PassportsPension plans
- Household inventory
- Military discharge papers
- Citizenship and adoption papers
If There is a Death in the Family
Some burglars read obituaries and know people will be gone from the home during a funeral. If there is a death in the family, arrangements should be made for a house-sitter the day of the funeral.
The homeowner should participate in Operation Identification (see Chapter Twenty-Seven for more detailed information about Operation Identification), if it is offered by the local police or sheriff’s department. If Operation Identification is not locally offered, they should purchase an engraver on their own.
The homeowner should engrave their social security number (preceded by their state abbreviation) on items of value such as TV’s, stereos, VCR’s, cameras, sporting equipment, tools, etc. They should photograph unmarkable items such as china, silver or jewelry.
The homeowner should make a complete inventory of household goods, including serial numbers of valuables. The inventory and a photo or videotape of the items should be secured in a rented band safe deposit box.
If they are available, Operation Identification stickers should be placed on the front door, front window or other clearly visible location after the items of value have been engraved.
Neighborhood Watch (see Chapter Twenty-Six for more detailed information about Neighborhood Watch) is a crime prevention program that uses citizens, in cooperation with law enforcement, to reduce crime in their communities. It involves neighbors getting to know each other, taking the time to watch out for each other, and working together in a program of mutual assistance.
Neighborhood Watch is an effective means of reducing residential burglaries. By participating in Neighborhood Watch, the homeowner will learn:
- Effective crime prevention techniques for home safety and security.
- How to become law enforcement’s “eyes and ears” and help them provide security to residential areas.
- How to report a crime: what to look for, how to describe an intruder, vehicle or activity and what additional information to give.