A co-worker handed me this article in an industry magazine and said, “Here I thought this was pretty cool for the newsletter or something.” It was entitled, “Rutgers study finds alarm systems are valuable crime fighting tool.” No s***! Kind of an obvious conclusion, don’t you think? Of course having a burglar alarm for your home would make it less attractive to intruders, right? Well this study “was conducted with the cooperation of the Newark Police Department and reviewed five years of police data. The more than 300-page study was conducted over a two-year period and funded by the non-profit Alarm Industry Research and Education Foundation. Apparently this type of study “helps police deploy their limited resources more efficiently.” It goes on to say that “it is the most comprehensive study of its kind because it uses in-depth research techniques..[We] were able to eliminate the variables that impact crime rates and focus directly on the impact alarm systems have on residential burglaries.” Affordability for middle class homeowners has been a factor in the last 5 years. I found this article to be, and I say this with the most amount of respect as possible, a joke,or more specifically, I find that there’s some organization that would do a study and pay money to research this information. Let me think about this…I would tend to believe that most break-ins are not done by career burglars. They don’t look like George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon and they don’t have maps of neighborhoods and mock safes to practice on beforehand. Especially in a struggling city like Newark, NJ, I would imagine there are some desperate people who are likely hooked on drugs or have some type of untreated mental illness who are more likely the intruders.
So, gee, if I’m a middle class resident of Newark and I have an alarm system and someone who’s mentally incapacitated (either chemically or biologically) sees the “property protected by Triad Security Alarm” sticker in my window, he/she is going to keep walking? Or perhaps it’s because word gets out that a certain block of houses on Mt. Prospect Avenue isn’t worth going to because Jimmy caught a case after he broke into a house there and now he’s doing a 5 flat for burglary. They’ve all got alarm systems and the cops pay attention??? I wonder if the study took into account the fact that the city of Newark has displaced hundreds of families who were living in low income house projects to other towns or into townhouse type communities where police sit outside and watch the drug deals go down. The article mentions how the study helps police with their limited resources. Perhaps the organization should consider deploying resources to arrest the dealers in the projects or hanging outside the bodegas instead of using Newark’s finest to participate in a study of whether or not security deterrents actually deter criminal activity. I’m not saying I have the answers but I’m saying there’s something missing here. I’d like to know by how much exactly crime in areas where there were alarms has decreased compared to areas wehre there are no known alarms. The only other reference point I have to compare this to is car alarms. My car has a car alarm on it. Yours probably does too if you have power locks. How many times have you gone to the mall or the grocery store or even in your parking lot at work and heard a car alarm going off? Did you do anything about it – see what car it was? Call the police? Alert the security desk in your building? I don’t. Sadly, I’m almost embarrassed to say that most people would probably do the same thing if they heard a house alarm just go inside and complain about how annoying it is. Maybe they’d call the police simply because of the noise problem rather than the fact that someone may have broken into the house. Where were these houses in the study located? Businesses have alarms in most cases – in Newark most businesses on Broadway just north of the police station have gates that come down over their doors and windows at night. I see lots of security cameras. I also still see gangs and dealers in the area too.
Working in the security industry, I believe that security systems do deter wrong doers from committing crimes. Is it perfect? No. I think in most cases, however, the security cameras are there to catch the criminal after the fact and prosecute. The security alarm sticker on my house or my car for that matter might make the guy go to the next house or the next car instead of dealing with my alarm just in case. And that’s why I have a security system…just in case. I know it’s not foolproof. And I know if everyone in America had a security system that there would still be crime. There would still be break ins. There would still be desperate people willing to do desperate things. I think if I was one of the few on my block that didn’t have a security system, that I’d be inviting crime into my home. If I have no guard up, I’m asking for it basically. If I at the very least put up my best defense to protect my home and my loved ones, I’m at least willing to fight back and not passively let you Mr. or Ms. Criminal just come and take what I worked so hard for and what I care so deeply about. That’s just my 2 cents.
“Rutgers Study Finds Alarm Systems are Valuable Crime Fighting Tool,” Security Products. May 2009, page 16.
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