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Riverdale Dunthorpe Patrol
P.O. Box 532 Lake Oswego, OR 97034
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Security Tip: Alarm Systems

Riverdale Dunthorpe Patrol

"Should I get an alarm system?"

Frequently I am asked for advice about the value of installing burglar/fire alarm systems. During my career in law enforcement and private security, I have responded to hundreds of alarm activations. As of this writing, four alarm activations have been the result of criminal activity. I have also responded to a fire alarm activation where we discovered a small fire the occupant was not aware as well as several fire alarm activations resulting from overcooked food. While emergencies are a small fraction of total alarm activations, I still recommend having a system installed. Using an alarm system gives you peace of mind in several circumstances. Here are a few of my favorites:

Why is that door open?

Coming home to an open door can send your mind racing. Why is that door open? How long has the door been open? Did someone break in to my house? Is there someone still in my house? Is my family safe? Are my pets safe? These are just some of the questions you might ask yourself. If you have an alarm, you would know that door was closed when you armed the system. If the door had been open when you attempted to arm the alarm, the system would notify you that the home was not secure. You could then close the door and arm the alarm system. If the door was closed enough to arm the alarm, but not properly secured, and was later opened by a burglar, or something innocent like a gust of wind or an animal, you would be notified. You would know exactly when the door was opened and it could be investigated by whomever you have asked your alarm company to contact (police, security, yourself, a family member or trusted friend).

"My neighbors watch my house when I am away."

You may have great neighbors who watch over your house and would call you or the police if they saw something suspicious; but can they see the back doors and windows? When the police are performing deterrent patrols in your neighborhood, can they see the back of your house? If you have a long driveway, is your house visible from the street at all? When you depend on others to observe suspicious activity and notify you or the police, there is significant opportunity for a criminal to work without being detected, or a fire to cause devastating damage to your home. A working alarm system can be your ever-present sentinel ready to detect trouble and alert responders.

"An alarm won't stop criminals from entering my home."

In the event a criminal illegally enters your home, a working alarm serves two main functions. You’ve read about the benefit of notifying responders in the above paragraph. Another important benefit is limiting the amount of time a criminal spends in your home. Criminals don’t want to get caught. Home burglars attempt to remain undetected. An activated alarm makes a lot of noise. When a criminal hears the siren of an alarm, they know their time is limited. They have to assume someone will be notified or a neighbor will investigate the noise. Burglars may decide to leave immediately without entering the house or may enter and only spend a very short time in the house. If they stay for any length of time, they risk being seen by someone who can describe them or being caught by responding authorities. In the four criminal alarm activations I mentioned above, the burglar was gone before responding parties arrived to investigate. Burglars that enter homes without a working and armed alarm system don’t worry about leaving quickly. Victims without an alarm often come home to find many items missing and a huge mess left by the burglars after they opened drawers, rifled through closets and overturned mattresses looking for valuables.

Insurance Discounts

If you already have a working alarm system installed, call your insurance agent or the insurance company that carries your homeowner’s insurance policy. Most insurance companies will provide a discount (usually between 10% & 15%) on your insurance policy because the risk of loss is lowered by early detection of fires and burglaries. That discount will help defray the initial and ongoing costs of monitoring your alarm system.

I think these benefits provide enough peace of mind to justify the investment. If you are thinking about installing an alarm system, talk to multiple companies. Get information from your neighbors or friends and family about their experiences with their alarm systems and choose a company with which you are comfortable with. The alarm company is a trusted partner in securing your home.

Photo Credit: Riverdale Dunthorpe Patrol