We were recently asked the following question by one of our readers, and our security consultant has pitched in with guidance.
Our home was recently involved in a B & E. The intruders kicked our front door down (after a long battle) shortly after 8:00 a.m. I returned home 5 hours later to missing TV’s, laptop and all of my jewelry.
When I called 911, the response time for law enforcement was 1 hour. We live in the country and are not covered by our local police department.
We are seriously considering having a security system installed. However, if the response time is 1 hour or more, what good is it to have a monitored alarm system.
I appreciate your insight on this.
Average Police Response Time Based on Geographic Locations
The average police response time for verified (audio or video) alarm police dispatches is around seven minutes, nationwide, according to Chelsea Mitchell from Secure Pacific Corp. Most police departments have a 4 part response schedule. The highest priority (priority 1) goes to a burglary alarm verified by audio or video (typically a government or business installation), while a conventional motion detector based system is assigned priority 3 based on availability.
I am sorry that you had to go through this ordeal but grateful that you weren’t physically hurt since you were not home when your break-in occurred. Your unfortunate experience clearly reinforces why a security system has become a necessary investment for any homeowner, and also why an alarm must be custom-designed to each residence and its applications.
The burglar “chose” your home because he considered it a “better opportunity” since it is alone and isolated in the country. This implies that your home is not “ordinary” and as such, an “ordinary alarm system” will not suffice. In your example, your alarm system design must also take into account that police services require a longer response time since you live in the country. While one or two sirens may be fine in the city where houses are boxed close to each other and your neighbors are practically looking into your windows, additional sirens and /or exterior strobe lights are absolutely necessary for your country home.
Dependent upon your budget, you could incorporate add-on features that can also flash your interior house lights once your alarm is activated. Your alarm system must create an environment which criminals don’t want to “be comfortable”, or “hang around in”. Criminals will spend a much longer time inside homes when they don’t feel “threatened”. If your country home’s alarm system is set off by a burglar, he must immediately think, “Hey, this suddenly isn’t the “easy job” I envisioned before I took all the time necessary to break down the front door. There are now lights flashing everywhere with more sirens and noise than I ever imagined.” This type of alarm system “reaction to an intruder” will get him thinking about quickly leaving instead of sticking around and calmly going about “his business.”
Driveway Sensors, Alerts, and Video Surveillance
Isolated homes typically have a long, private driveway leading to the residence. Driveway sensors can be installed to alert you of a car on your property approaching while you are inside sleeping or away at work. E-mail or text messages can also be sent to you and neighbors whenever any alarm sensor is triggered. Video surveillance via the Internet is an excellent feature for homeowners who wish to keep an eye on their country homes. Burglars have been caught “in the act” and police response is much quicker when they have video confirmation that criminals are still on-site. Thieves have also been identified “after the fact” because of captured video images.
High Vs Low Priority Police Response
I’m also sorry that it took police over an hour to get to your home after you called them to report your break-in. Response after a crime has occurred is not considered “a high priority“, so they will not be speeding to your home to make a report of the items which were stolen.
Police Response Times Faster During Break-Ins
I must point out that police response is much faster for a personal emergency situation in progress, such as a panic button activation or a cell phone call being made by a homeowner directly to 9-1-1 during a break-in. These type of incidents experience a much faster average police response time. Police response to a monitoring station operator reporting that a motion detector has been activated inside an empty home is considered “low-priority“, since no lives are being immediately threatened. It is your own personal choice to have your alarm system monitored or not, but I’ll help you to examine your options:
Monitored vs non-Monitored Security System
Let’s imagine that, under the best of circumstances, it will take the police 15 minutes to reach your country home once they receive notification. You must have emergency contingency plans prepared and in place that clearly outline what you will do during that 15 minute wait, whether or not that your home alarm system is monitored.
If your alarm system is not monitored and an emergency situation does occur, it is you who has the sole responsibility of notifying the police via your cell phone (provided that you still have access to it) before the 15 minute “police response countdown” can even begin. Otherwise, the police are not coming at all, meaning you and your family are completely on your own! At the very least, you now require a decent alarm system and a plan.
Given these considerations, I also hope that you now see the value of wireless monitoring, regardless if the police take an hour to arrive. I highly recommend that you opt for one of the more secure wireless methods of transmission, such as a radio or cellular communicator, to help ensure that emergency alarm signals reach your monitoring station.
Consultation with a trusted, professional alarm installer will bring you up to speed on the numerous security systems, devices, equipment and options available towards safeguarding your home and family, in consideration of your particular situation and needs. He’ll also be able to help you prepare an emergency plan to implement with your family and neighbors.