Why should I have my
alarm system monitored ?
I am often asked this question by customers considering whether or not
they should skip the monitoring of their alarm system to save the monthly costs. They ask
"Aren't the decals enough - after all, the kids don't know it's not monitored ?"
Before I answer that, let me first tell you that in this business,
virtually the only money made by security companies is in the month to month revenue
stream resulting from monitored accounts. As a result, the large mass marketers have
targeted the winning of new monitored accounts to the exclusion of all else. All
dealers make money from monitoring (some much more than others) but having said that,
it also is a truth that monitoring is an integral and vital part
of your security system. The
primary purpose of an alarm system is response, not noise !!
Your security system is comprised of four parts, and like all
things in security is only as good as the weakest link.
If any should fail or disappear, your overall system security has been
Should you choose not to monitor your system, you are betting your home
and possessions that the decals alone will fool thieves, and the horn will chase them away
(all for the sake of saving a few dollars per month !!!) It doesn't very often work
that way, in spite of what you might wish to think !! To rely solely on an audible
alarm is to be overly optimistic. Its much like throwing a drowning man a life preserver
without a rope attached !!
In order to work well, a local system relies on a series of coincidences
to occur simultaneously:
Neighbours within earshot must be home when the alarm occurs, they must be
awake, or involved in a pastime quiet enough for the audible signal to be heard.
Neighbours must recognize the sound for what it is; they then must decide
to take some action, rather than assuming it is a malfunction and choosing to ignore it.
Neighbours must be able to easily determine where the noise is coming
from, and then make a decision to take the initiative and call the police.
Let me be very straightforward on this issue. Neighbours don't watch your
home 24 hours a day. While neighbours invariably mean well, the simple truth is that they
are often busy with their own problems and concerns. In these days of two-income families
and "empty nests', it is not uncommon for suburban streets to be almost completely
unoccupied for long stretches of time, and generally so during the 10:00 AM to 3:00 Pm
high risk time of day. In addition, to ask your neighbours to risk their safety to
investigate a possible break-in is not really fair to them, and generally should be
avoided. Police living in your immediate neighbourhood have NO affect on the burglary rate
on your street - they are victimized as often as anyone else. Internal or external horns
are rarely heard in the dead of winter with windows closed and the TV blaring. There is a
reason why insurance companies don't extend discounts to non-monitored systems. Their
experience shows that local systems do not cut down the losses as a result of a fire or
break-in, to anywhere near the degree achieved when a system is professionally
monitored. Rural customers often think that their remoteness makes police or third
party response less effective due to the response time involved, when in fact, these are
the people who may need it the most !! In remote areas, thieves feel they can take
the time to really clean out the home!
People running small business ventures out of their homes have additional
needs to protect their computer and business equipment from theft. Monitoring fees in
these cases are generally tax deductable, depending upon your situation.
So at the risk of perhaps seeming self serving, I give you this piece of
If you don't want or can't afford the monthly
costs to have your system professionally monitored, then don't spend the money to purchase
a professional alarm system.
When you shop for monitoring separately from your system itself (as you
should), look for the following:
1- A ULC rated monitoring station which guarantees a certain level of
personnel training and adherence to strict standards.
2- Monthly rates for service not to exceed $20 a month (North American
average is $24.40 per month)
3- A contract with no long term commitment (month over month is much
preferred), but certainly no longer than a year term, and a long term rate guarantee
against a price rise.
4- The assurance your alarm system is not "proprietary" in
nature and can be monitored by any other station in the future.
5- Written assurance your board will NOT be locked in software( which normally
necessitates a complete changeover of the expensive alarm board ) to prevent
you from easily changing companies should their service or rates not be
Remember, the staff responding to your alarm are highly trained
individuals with experience in what to do according to the situation they encounter. Their
service to you can be worth every penny you pay for monitoring services in an emergency!
Just like insurance, you may resent paying for it up front, until you have a
disaster, and then it seems inexpensive at 100 times the price !!!!!
Our monitoring service is provided by a top quality
ULC rated monitoring station here in Ottawa, located on Woodward Avenue
Monitoring Network Inc.