Your Alarm System May Not Be Protecting Your Property
It’s no secret that the alarm system protecting your business is your first line of defense when detecting intruders attempting to gain entrance into your shop when it is closed for business. It is also a known fact that not all alarm systems are created equal - some being better than others, following the adage “you get what you pay for."
Marshall & Sterling isn't an alarm expert. We don't promote one alarm company over another. The purpose of this is to point out the possibility that your current system may not be “the best it can be.” Your current system may be missing components that would heighten its effectiveness. To this end, here are the basic alarm components we feel every system should have:
- All accessible openings should be contacted, (these opening would include all doors, windows, and all other openings in the walls or roof of your shop such as vents, skylights, etc)
- All windows should be protected with glass break sensors or alarm tape. At the very minimum, motion detectors or infrared detectors ought to be installed to protect each window from the interior of the shop.
- If your shop is in a one-story building with a drop ceiling, motion detectors should be placed above the drop ceiling and below the roof. This will pick up any intruders that are trying to gain entrance through your roof with the intension of dropping down into your shop at night or into the store once you have opened.
- Your safes should have their own alarm component protecting all six of their sides. This will help protect the property in your safe in the event an intruder gains entrance into your shop, through a wall, roof or basement, bypassing your store's perimeter protection and interior motion detectors.
- Hold up buttons should be placed behind the counters, near the cash registers, in the back of the store (where an employee may be located when the perpetrator is in front of the store), and in the bathroom, the place where employees may try to hide.
- You should provide remote hold up buttons that the employees can use when opening and closing the shop.
- Ask your alarm company how often your system automatically checks itself (referred to as Polling). Polling shouldn’t be any longer than every 15 minutes.
- You should have supervised opening and closing which would notify the alarm company in the event you or any employee is forced back into the store once it is closed.
- You should have an emergency battery backup.
- You should have an annual service contract with your alarm company.
- The most important component in any Alarm System is a signal transmission backup. This can be in the form of Radio, Cellular, Internet or a UL Line Security component installed on your phone. All these components ensure the fact that your alarm company will receive a signal in the event your system is breached.
Just having a good alarm system installed in your shop doesn’t guarantee that you won’t suffer a burglary loss
Your alarm system only plays the first part in protecting your property. You as the business owner play the second part. Have a relationship with your alarm company. Ask them questions such as:
- How does my alarm communicate a problem to the alarm company?
- How can I ensure the communication from my store to the Central Station cannot be compromised?
- What happens if the internet goes down?
- What happens if the phone line is cut?
- What happens if a cell jammer is used?
- What is line security?
Recently, one of our customers in the western part of the country suffered a large burglary loss.
The customer had a very good alarm system, (UL Certified Central Station Grade AA, Safe Complete) which covered the entire perimeter of his shop and his safe. One evening he received a phone call from his alarm company notifying him of an alarm condition at one of his stores. Our customer sent one of his managers to the store to meet the police.
Both the manager and police looked over the entire premise and found that everything was in order. Thinking the alarm condition was just a false alarm, the police and the manager locked up the store, reset the alarm and left. Later that night the manager received another call, but decided not to respond as he and the alarm tech felt that there must be a fault in the system. The next morning when the owner arrived, he found his store opened, his safe destroyed and the entire contents of the safe gone.
So what happened?
The alarm system did its job, it notified the alarm company’s monitoring station, the business owner, and the police of an alarm condition at the store. However, in this case a seasoned burglar was involved. The burglar knew what would happen once the alarm system was breached - the police, owner, maybe an alarm guard would arrive at the shop to investigate. The burglar also knew that there was a strong possibility that if the individuals don’t find anything wrong and /or there was a second alarm they may leave the store unprotected for the rest of the evening.
What should the owner of the shop have done?
After the store is inspected and nothing is found that would have caused the alarm condition, the manager must make sure the alarm system is reset before leaving. If the system cannot be reset, they need to stay in the store to protect its contents until the alarm company can find out the reason the alarm can’t be reset. In addition, if there is a second alarm, don’t just assume there is a fault in the system and ignore it.
Over the last 50 or 60 years we have seen this happen time and time again. Customers with excellent alarm systems suffered burglary losses because they didn’t play their part in protecting their property. Remember, your alarm system has limitations.