Burglar Alarm Guidelines

When shopping for a burglar alarm system, use these guidelines to check out the system you are considering as well as the dealer:

THE BUSINESS

Is the business local?
Do they have a state license?
Do they offer 24-hour service?
Will the business work with your insurance company for reduced rates?
Is there a warranty?
Is there a service contract?
If the system is monitored by a central station, is it a person or tape recording?
If you are out of town, or the system is for a commercial premise, will the company have someone respond to the location to assist the police?
Are there several complaints on file with the Better Business Bureau of South Florida (telephone number 561-842-1918).

THE EQUIPMENT

If you have pets, you may want to avoid motion detectors.
Is it electrically or battery operated?
If electrically operated, does it switch automatically to battery power without activating (in the event of a power failure)?
If activated, will it automatically shut itself off, will it reset for another attack?
If the control box is exposed, will it activate if tampered with?
Are all wires protected from the elements and rodents?
If an audible system, is it loud enough for neighbors to hear?
Does the system have a time delay to allow time to activate or deactivate without false alarms?
Is the system approved by Underwriters Laboratory (U.L.)?

RESOURCES

Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation
Electrical Contractors and Licensing Board
1940 Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0771

Alarm Association of Florida
1349 E. Lafayette Street
Tallahassee, FL 32307
904-681-3200

Some residential systems are designed to activate an audible siren and/or illuminate the area to scare off an intruder. These local systems send a signal from a sensory device directly to a light system or to a bell or siren located in your attic or on the outside of your home.

When a sensory device detects an intruder, the sounding device is activated and/or the house lights are turned on. It is hoped that the lights or sound will alert the homeowner (if at home), a neighbor or a cruising police unit. Since the typical residential burglar is not a professional, a local system will usually scare him from the premises.

Many companies will install a combination system that includes a local alarm (audible siren and/or lights) and a central reporting alarm. The advantage of having the central reporting alarm system is that an alarm company is constantly monitoring it. If the alarm goes off, the alarm company notifies the police department.

It is a good idea to have at least one smoke detector built into your alarm system. Smoke is the primary killer in fires and a smoke detector placed in a hallway between bedrooms can save lives.

Added protection is provided by a built-in ability to test the system regularly.

You get what you pay for. In this regard, be sure that the sensor device (magnetic contacts, motion detectors, pressure mats, screens, etc.) to be installed are Underwriter Laboratories (U.L.) approved for burglary protection.

There are usually  two costs involved when dealing with an alarm company: an installation charge and a monthly service charge. It is not recommended that you buy or lease a system from a company which does not offer a contract for continuing maintenance and service.

Once the alarm company representative has made an appraisal of your security needs, ask him for a written proposal and a copy of the contract you will have to sign. Take some time, look it over, and think about it. Check the alarm company’s reputation by calling the Better Business Bureau, or contacting the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation or the Alarm Association of Florida. You should also consider two additional estimates from reputable companies and compare costs.

Never sign a contract that does not list all points of protection and does not itemize the equipment to be installed.

There are laws in some areas that prohibit anyone from having a device attached to their telephone that will automatically call the police or fire departments in an emergency situation. A system that calls a security company is legal and they will in turn notify the police.

Remember: a good alarm system is an investment in your security and personal well-being. The mere presence of an alarm is often a deterrent. Advertise the fact that your home or business is alarmed by using a warning decal.

If you are a resident of Lighthouse Point and need further assistance selecting an alarm system, contact your Crime Prevention Officer at 954-784-3415.