Outsmart the Burglar: How to Defeat Alarm Systems

If you take your home protection seriously, then you know it’s not enough to just install a home security system and forget about it. As technology improves, so to do techniques used by thieves to disrupt home security systems and find ways to break in to your home.

How to outsmart burglar

In the 90's, before wireless technology allowed us to use door and window sensors that digitally sent signals to a central unit, thieves found ways to dig up hard wires and cut them to deactivate home alarm systems. Home alarm companies wised up to that game and went wireless (thanks technology!), but it was only a matter of time before criminals figured out new ways to bypass these wireless systems too.

State of home alarm system technology

Today, most home alarm systems are wireless. Sensors are usually set up around doors and windows that monitor motion, glass breaks and open/closing doors and windows. Depending on your service, when the sensor is tripped, a wireless signal is sent to a central unit that might be located on the wall by the front door or by your internet router. From there, siren, emergency calls, or any number of security features are activated. These security features remain active (i.e. the alarm sounding, the police being dispatched, etc.) until they are shut down or cancelled, usually by a code or smartphone.

How do criminals outsmart alarm systems?

Criminals are keeping up with technology and always trying to outthink alarm systems. Criminals know that most alarm systems use radio frequency signals to allow the sensors to talk to the central units. If a criminal can interrupt that radio signal before or immediately after a sensor is tripped, they can prevent the central unit from sending out a distress signal (be it by siren or emergency contact).

One way these signals can be interrupted is by "jamming" the radio signal. A simple online search will show you exactly how jammers work, and even direct you to where to purchase one (one site breaks down prices and shows that all components cost less than $10). Basically, these jammers send out electromagnetic (EM) frequencies in a certain area that can be picked up by home alarm systems. After a system picks up this EM frequency, it is unable to send out any other radio signals and your home alarm system is useless. While the FCC prohibits these devices, consumers should still be aware of their existence.

There are also devices that criminals use that can determine whether or not your alarm system is turned on. They can literally walk down the sidewalk and know which houses have active alarm systems and which do not.

How to ensure you're protected

If you really want to ensure that there is very little chance your house is broken in to, you might want to invest in a commercial grade home security system. This starts with video surveillance systems. Top of the line technology allows video to be instantly uploaded to a cloud, which will store as much footage as you're willing to pay for. You might be able to catch the criminal on video before they break in to your house.

An alternative power supply is another investment that you might consider. Most monitors are battery-powered, but central units rely on an Internet connection with can be interrupted if the power to your house is cut. A backup power supply will ensure that if your home's power is cut, you won't lose your alarm system connection and your equipment will still work.

Finally, make sure that your home is secure beyond your alarm system. Quality deadbolt locks and window coverings are great, one-time expenses that will buy you time to alert authorities before anyone can get in to your home.

Think like a criminal

In order to protect yourself from criminals, sometimes you have to think like a criminal. Now that you know what they are capable of, you can look at your house objectively and think, "If I were a thief, how would I attack this home?" Make sure that you are always arming your system when you leave the home and that you test your system regularly to ensure everything is in working order. You will also want to ensure that all of your emergency numbers up to date. Know who is contacted when your alarm is tripped, whether it's the security company or the signal goes straight to the police.

Learn more about thinking like a criminal with this video from the Durham NC Police Department:

Whatever level of protection you decide is right for you, make sure you get your security system installed correctly based on the system's instructions. Most top of the line systems require periodic checkups to ensure everything is in order. Figure out which product is right for you, and keep a sharp eye out for any damaged equipment around your home. The best way to protect your family and belongings is by being active, assertive, and aware of how your alarm system works and how someone might try to deactivate that system if they were trying to break in to your home.

Do you have any other tips for outsmarting burglars?

Something to consider: If you're are interested in reading our overall rankings of  Top Rated Security Camera Reviews and how we ranked them, or if you have specific things you’re looking for, consider checking out any of these articles: Best Night Vision Cameras, Best HD Security Cameras, Best Cheap Security Cameras, Best Outdoor Security CamerasBest Hidden Cameras, or Best Dash Cams.