Rutgers University study confirms the effectiveness of security systems

I just read the following in a security trade magazine:

A study released in 2009 by researchers at Rutgers University concluded that residential burglar alarm systems decrease crime and have a positive effect in the overall crime rate locally.

The research, which was funded by the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation (AIREF,) analyzed data from 2001 to 2005 provided by police in Newark, NJ.  It found that an installed burglar alarm makes a dwelling less attractive to both would-be and active intruders, and also protects a home without displacing burglaries to nearby homes.

The study concluded that the deterrent effect of alarms is felt in the community at large.  “Neighborhoods in which burglar alarms were densely installed have fewer incidents of residential burglaries than the neighborhoods  with fewer alarms,” the study noted.

The above came from an article written by Ron Walters, the Director of SIAC (Security Industry Alarm Coalition.)

The article by Mr. Walters was about why some people don’t use their alarm systems, mainly because of fear of false alarms.  While virtually every community in New Jersey has a false alarm ordinance, I think some towns get hung up on the “letter of the law,” rather than the “intent” of the law.  The idea of a false alarm ordinance is to make sure that people maintain their security systems, it should not be in place to punish someone who is having a problem with their security system.  While approximately 85% of false alarms are caused by the end user (according to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports (UCR,) there are that 15% caused by equipment malfunction.  That is not to say there is a lot of faulty equipment in use, because there is not.  In that 15%, are doors that go out of adjustment and the alarm circuit can open by vibration or wind.  Properly installed security systems do not have false alarms.  Yes, things happen, a detector can go bad, or a door or window contact can be damaged, but by far and away, these are exceptions, not the rule.  In the article by Mr. Walters, he referenced the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2002.  She was a 14 year old girl and was taken from her home through her bedroom window.  Fortunately, she was found alive nine months later.  But at the press conference, a relative spoke to reporters.  One reporter asked “Didn’t the family have an alarm system?”  The man’s answer stunned most of the alarm industry.  He said “Yes, but it wasn’t on because we’ve had too many false alarms.”  I find this to be unacceptable.  I tell my customers, if you accidentally trip your alarm, realize your mistake and learn from it.  Generally speaking, the Central Station operator will call, and when the homeowner gives their password, no further action is taken.  No harm, no foul.  But I also tell them, “If you are having a problem with the alarm system,  First, call me for service, and then Secondly, Bypass the zone in trouble, but please continue to use the alarm system.”  Having an alarm system and not using it, is like not having it.  The press release of the Rutgers Study is below.  Click on the link to download the pdf file.

Rutgers Study

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