21 Nov 2017
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Contrary to what most people think, burglary doesn’t have to involve theft. Simply illegally entering or attempting to enter a residence constitutes burglary, based on the definition used by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Statistically, a burglar in your home is likely to steal something, but they could also attack or do other things to endanger you or your loved ones.
Data on burglaries from 2015, which is the most recent year the FBI has reported on, paint a clearer picture. There were an estimated 1,579,537 burglaries in the US, accounting for almost 20% of all reported property crimes. More than six out of 10 burglaries involved forcedl entry; 71.6% of burglaries involved residential properties. Property losses added up to roughly $3.6 billion — that’s around $2,316 per burglary.
And how often do burglars get arrested? The average arrest rate for burglaries in the US, according to the BJS, is just 13%. In other words, the chances that you’d recover stolen property or money after a break-in are very small — and you’re better off trying to prevent it with a home alarm security system. Aside from being a non-lethal preventive measure, security systems give users a large degree of control.
Causes for Alarm
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The most advanced systems can provide real-time security, integrate scores of sensors and detectors, and let users change the settings depending on the permissions they have. The most important change, of course, is arming your home security system, for which there are three typical settings: “away,” “stay,” and “night” modes.
But before we get into that, we’ll discuss one important security concept: zones.
Security systems are designed to prevent unwanted entry, and that usually means setting the alarm to go off as soon as someone enters an area — but that’s not always the best idea. What about areas that people need to pass through normally, but sometimes need to be monitored? What if you’re carrying groceries through the front door and can’t disarm the system right away? To account for these different circumstances, the sensors throughout your house are defined as different zones. Entry points that only a burglar would use, like a bathroom window, are defined as instant-trigger zones. Entry and exit points that are used regularly have time delays, which give people a window to disarm the system before the alarm gets triggered. The alarm response for interior zones depends on what setting you use in arming the system.
Defining different zones is important to prevent false alarms. A report from the Department of Justice says that false alarms represent around 10% to 25% of all calls to police, and solving that problem would relieve 35,000 officers who unnecessarily respond to them. Homeowners must pay fees for false alarms in certain cities; the first one is usually free, but the second could cost you up to $100 depending where you live. And if your system reports too many, authorities will become less likely to respond when it gets triggered.
Step Out with Safety
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Obviously, the most important function of an alarm system is to provide home security when you’re away. According to another DOJ report, around 60% of reported residential burglaries occur in the daytime, when houses are unoccupied. You have to be assured that no one will break in — and that’s where the “away” arming mode is for.
When the alarm system is armed in “away” mode, the alarm system watches all the instant-trigger zones as well as the normal entry points like the front door. It also monitors the interior zones for any movement or activity; since no one’s at home, it’s safe to assume that any motion within the house is unauthorized.
The steps for arming a system in “away” mode can differ based on the brand and model you’re using. In the case of the DSC PowerSeries Neo alarm panel, look for an icon that resembles an empty house, and press it for two seconds to arm. In some cases, depending on how the system was installed, you may also have to enter your security access code to arm the system. But of course, it’s always best to read the manual.
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Most burglars won’t enter a home with occupants, but it can still happen. That’s why alarm systems ensure security at home by anticipating the worst. There may also be children, grandparents, or large pets left at home while mom and dad are away. In those cases, you want to use the “stay” mode.
Just like in “away” mode, an alarm system in “stay” mode will monitor the instant-trigger zones as well as the normal entry and exit points. The difference is that in “stay” mode, interior zones are not monitored. That means movement within the house won’t be regarded as suspicious and won’t trigger any alarms.
If you’re using a PowerSeries Neo alarm panel, arming your home alarm system in “stay” mode is also very simple. You have to look at the keypad and look for an icon that resembles a house with a person inside. Press that key for two seconds, then it should be armed. Take note that you may also have to enter your access code to arm the system in this mode.
Asleep and Assured
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Take note that the “stay” mode is used in the daytime, when the occupants are awake. It’s a different story when they’re asleep. At that point, they’re more vulnerable to attacks by intruders, so they need tighter home security at night. In that case, the alarm system should be armed in “night” mode.
The specific triggering conditions in “night” mode can differ based on the alarm system. Generally, it’s similar to “stay” mode, but certain zones that are normally disabled when in stay mode are then enabled. For that reason, this function is usually used when everyone is ready to sleep and not move through the house.
To put a system in “night” mode using the PowerSeries Neo alarm panel, start by arming the system to “stay” mode. Once that’s done, press the asterisk key [*], then press . As before, you may have to enter the access code to finish the arming process.
Looking only at the legal definition, burglary is technically not a violent or dangerous crime. But just think a little, and you’ll realize that anyone who enters your home without authorization probably has no good intentions. Having the right home alarm system can provide users with peace of mind. Of course, the more familiar you are with your system, the more effectively you can use it. Knowing the different security settings, and minimizing the risk of false alarms, will help you get the best results from your technology investment.