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.” ••