Safe and secure

Xfin­ity store man­ager Joseph Shee­hy Jr., demon­strates the home se­cur­ity unit’s cam­er­as. MARIA POUCH­NIKOVA / TIMES PHO­TOS

Go to any loc­al com­munity as­so­ci­ation meet­ing, and you’re likely to hear po­lice of­fi­cials tell folks that one of the  top crimes plaguing the North­east is home break-ins.

So, how ef­fect­ive are home alarm sys­tems?

In­spect­or Mi­chael Co­chrane, the new com­mand­er of the North­east Po­lice Di­vi­sion, sup­ports them, as long as they are in­stalled prop­erly by a reput­able firm and do not give out false alarms.

Co­chrane poin­ted to a re­cent break-in in Lex­ing­ton Park. The burg­lar was re­mov­ing a win­dow screen when an alarm soun­ded.

“The lady got out of bed, grabbed her phone, hid in a closet and called 911,” he said. “The alarm went off, and the guy ran. God knows what could have happened if the guy got in with a sev­enty-year-old lady by her­self in the house. That alarm paid for it­self ten times over.”

Con­sumers have vari­ous choices if they are in the mar­ket for a home alarm sys­tem.

ADT, which ser­vices the United States and Canada, has been around for 138 years, foun­ded in 1874 as Amer­ic­an Dis­trict Tele­graph.

The Boca Raton, Fla.-based com­pany wasn’t in­ter­ested in dis­cuss­ing de­tails of its op­er­a­tion, but it sup­plied a fact sheet in­dic­at­ing that it has 25 per­cent of the mar­ket share in the U.S. and Canada, way ahead of run­ner-up Pro­tec­tion One, based in Kan­sas.

In terms of raw num­bers, ADT has more than 6 mil­lion res­id­en­tial and small-busi­ness cus­tom­ers.

On a more loc­al level, Hol­land, Bucks County-based Cit­adel Se­cur­ity Sys­tems has been in busi­ness for more than 40 years and pro­motes a per­son­al ap­proach to cus­tom­ers.

Ve­r­i­zon of­fers Home Mon­it­or­ing and Con­trol, but pub­lic af­fairs man­ager John Colum­bus ex­plained that the Bask­ing Ridge, N.J.-based com­pany does not po­s­i­tion the sys­tem as a se­cur­ity solu­tion. In­stead, he said, it’s a “smart home solu­tion.”

In­tro­duced a year ago, a user will re­ceive a text mes­sage if a home win­dow or door is opened. The user can view the scene — via a video cam­era — on a cell phone or oth­er device. The po­lice are not auto­mat­ic­ally aler­ted.

Com­cast Cable has gone all in when it comes to res­id­en­tial alarm sys­tems, with its Xfin­ity Home.

The com­pany mar­kets the product as a way to scare off burg­lars, while also sav­ing res­id­ents money on their homeown­ers’ in­sur­ance policies.

Pack­ages start with door, win­dow and mo­tion sensors, along with a wire­less keypad and a full-dis­play touch screen.

Op­tions in­clude a key­chain re­mote and wa­ter and glass break sensors.

The premi­um and pre­ferred pack­ages in­clude small in­door and out­door cam­er­as that can be mon­itored on com­puters and phones; the abil­ity to re­motely change a home ther­mo­stat; and alerts for smoke de­tect­or ac­tiv­a­tions.

The cus­tom­ized ser­vice will al­low work­ing par­ents to view wheth­er their chil­dren are bring­ing friends in­to the house after school. And it will en­able them to see if their kids haven’t ar­rived home from school as sched­uled.

The com­pany in­vites po­ten­tial cus­tom­ers to sched­ule a home vis­it by an in­staller or to vis­it the new Xfin­ity store, loc­ated on Ox­ford Val­ley Road in Lang­horne.

Joe Shee­hy, the store gen­er­al man­ager, thinks Xfin­ity Home will con­tin­ue to grow be­cause of the Com­cast name.

Shee­hy also cites the ad­di­tion­al fea­tures, even in­clud­ing ways for cus­tom­ers to check the latest news, sports head­lines, weath­er and traffic and play games and learn a “word of the day.”

If an Xfin­ity Home alarm is tripped or a fire sensor triggered and not can­celed, the com­pany will alert the loc­al po­lice and fire de­part­ments.

In the near fu­ture, Xfin­ity wants to add a home health fea­ture that will be a step up from the tra­di­tion­al “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” mod­el. Also in de­vel­op­ment is a way to re­motely open locked doors, in­stead of break­ing a screen or climb­ing through a win­dow.

“It’s all in real time. We pro­act­ively in­form the cus­tom­er. And we’re con­stantly adding new fea­tures,” Shee­hy said. “It’s truly lim­it­less.”

Bustleton’s Nancy Jelassi was dis­en­chanted with her pre­vi­ous home alarm com­pan­ies.

“I had eight false alarms at a hun­dred dol­lars a pop,” she said of hav­ing to pay for the un­ne­ces­sary vis­its by po­lice of­ficers. “I needed to get something that was re­li­able.”

In April, she and her hus­band switched to Xfin­ity Home. They have mo­tion de­tect­ors and sensors on their front win­dow and front and back doors. In case of an opened door or win­dow or an un­wanted vis­it­or — es­pe­cially one on the prowl for Christ­mas presents un­der the tree — the couple will re­ceive a tele­phone call and a text mes­sage and e-mail to their com­puters and cell phones. They now feel safe leav­ing home and when they are asleep.

“The sys­tem’s been great. The equip­ment is work­ing a mil­lion times bet­ter. There have been no false alarms,” she said.

Mean­while, the Far North­east’s Do­cena Bly­den signed up for Xfin­ity Home in May. She had an­oth­er com­pany for 11 years but rising prices led her to look else­where.

Bly­den and her hus­band, Lee, who live in a town­house, have a cam­era in the liv­ing room that faces the front door. They ac­cess the go­ings-on in the house — in­clud­ing their dachshunds, Percy and Wendy — us­ing a phone ap­plic­a­tion.

They also have alarms on a bed­room win­dow, the front door, the gar­age door and a slid­ing back door.

“It’s the best de­cision we ever made. The price is cheap­er, and we have cam­er­as,” Do­cena Bly­den said. “We have peace of mind and feel com­fort­able when we’re away from the house. We can check the house when we’re gone.” ••

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