It seems like I’m always being bombarded with countless ads from companies offering home burglar alarm installation and monitoring services. Maybe that’s because 83% of homes in the US don’t have a security system in place to ward off potential thieves.
Are those homeowners crazy? Or crazy like a fox?
I took the plunge and got one not long after moving into my current home and it certainly provided peace of mind — for a little while.
However, I eventually came to realize that the cons of owning a monitored home security system far outweighed the pros. Here are 14 reasons why:
1. They can be expensive to install. Yes, some companies will do the job for under $100, but if your home isn’t pre-wired — or you want one of the more elaborate systems — you could spend thousands of dollars in installation fees.
2. Those monthly monitoring fees add up. They can range anywhere from $25 to $100 per month — and the commitment is typically over several years. That usually exceeds the average annual homeowner’s policy discount of 15% or 20% for having the service.
3. They’re annoying. Ask any security system owner who sets their alarm at night before going to bed how much fun it is when another family member wakes up and accidentally sets the alarm off because they failed to properly deactivate it. It isn’t. That’s one reason why:
4. They have a high false-alarm rate. Actually, ridiculously high. In fact, the central monitoring stations experience a false alarm rate of approximately 80% … so it’s no wonder that:
5. The security monitoring centers are overwhelmed. In order to reduce traffic, some monitoring companies intentionally increase the time it takes for an alarm to register at their site, which is why it can often take as long as two minutes to get a call-back. Meanwhile:
6. Your neighbors will hate you. Especially after they’ve been roused out of a sound sleep at 3 o’clock on a Monday morning by the blaring sound of your home alarm — while you’re on vacation in Maui. Needless to say, when they can:
7. Most people simply ignore them. All of those false alarms have conditioned neighbors to pay little attention to them anymore. Of course, the cops have an obligation to show up. Just in case. As a result:
8. Some police departments charge a response fee for wasting their time. Usually, you can expect a bill from city hall after the first or second false alarm. But even if it isn’t a false alarm:
9. Burglars know that police response times are slow. Even in small towns, don’t expect the cops to be at your house for at least seven minutes. That’s an eternity when you need help. And in larger cities wait times can average between 30 and 45 minutes.
10. If you’re a dog owner, they provide little added value. Man’s best friend can protect your home just as well as a modern alarm system — if not better. True, a good watchdog can’t call the police; but that rarely ever matters because they’re such a good deterrent.
11. They won’t work during an extended power outage. If you’re lucky, a 12-volt back-up battery will typically keep most home alarm systems functioning for no more than 10 to 24 hours. That’s it. Just remember, when they are working:
12. They’re fairly easy to disable. Never mind that they’re no match for professional burglars. Amateur thieves can neutralize them too if the lone connection point to the monitoring center is via a phone line that can be easily cut. And even if the bad guys can’t disable the system …
13. They’re not effective against snatch-and-grab burglaries. Most criminals strike quickly because that decreases their risk of being caught. Besides:
14. They’re not foolproof. After all, monitored home security systems only work if you remember to activate them. Then again, considering all of their drawbacks, that’s probably a good thing.
Photo Credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com