The New York Times ran an article on Saturday, May 1, 2010 by Paul Sullivan.  This guy has a column called "Wealth Matters" and his article was titled 'Weighing the Value of a Home Security System".  The article is negative for the alarm industry.  Comments by alarm industry representations are quoted, and see what they had to say below.

    Here are a few quotes from Sullivan:

    "People may be surprised to learn that when they most need their security system to protect their house, they oftentimes cannot rely on it."

    "But even when the systems are working properly, the police response times can be slow."

    "If no one is going to show up when your house is broken into, why bother paying the monthly fee?"  [his only reason is to get a home insurance discount.  Although he also points out that recent college study found that when entire neighborhoods are alarmed there is less likely chance of break ins].  Study focused on Newark NJ.  [is that place still inhabited?]

    So how does alarm industry representatives answer these statements.  Well here are a few more quotes:

    Mr. M "also attributed part of the slow response to the high number of false alarms - an estimated 80 percent of alarm calls - and partly to the low priority of burglaries."

    "... most thieves wander neighborhoods looking for an easy entry point, like an open window.  Your security system would have told you to close that window when you tried to turn it on."

    Then an alarm company owner stated "Alarms are not sophisticated ...adding that basic monitoring panels have not changed in decades."  This same alarm company owner noted that he provided security to high profile people, charging $7000 a month.  [that's some alarm system !!]

    Another alarm co rep stated that alarm systems are only as good as the operators responding to the alarm.  The article goes on to describe the complaint of someone else whose job is "advising customers on their security  needs".  He complained that a national monitoring company refused to discuss an alarm condition with a babysitter because the sitter was not authorized on the account.  This security advisor canceled the monitoring and went with a local central station, apparently one willing to talk to unidentified and unauthorized persons at the alarm location.

    So, here is what I would have liked to have added to the article.    A few questions.

    *  Someone breaks into your house, while you're home.  You don't have any security system.  When will the police or someone else find out and respond to help you?  Seems to me even if response time is 30 minutes in some places, at least you know they are coming.

    *  You're not home.  Someone breaks in.  No alarm system.  How long do they have to remove your property before they are discovered or chased off?

    *  Your house catches fire or suffers smoke or CO conditions.  No alarm system.  When do you find out?  When does someone come to help?  Municipalities are not mandating fire alarm systems in new residences to help the alarm industry - you can bet on that.

    *  Your house catches fire.  No one is home and no alarm system.  How long before a neighbor, if you have one, sees it and reports it?

    *  Any of the above scenarios, how long you think it will take for police or fire departments to find out about your emergency situation if you don't have an alarm?  Think they will just be passing by and stop in?

    Let's shut off Mr. Sullivan's alarm - because I am willing to bet he has one - and see how he likes saving his monthly alarm charges.  I wonder if he's paying  RMR of $7000?  Maybe he should try $20 a month with any one of the excellent wholesale alarm monitoring companies.  At least he'll feel he's getting his money's worth.