Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Glass Break Detectors

The Alarm Association of Florida has developed some of the best training programs for use in the alarm industry. We have concentrated in the areas of codes, standards, procedures and regulations that govern the way our profession should work. We do generic training on installation best practices and share ideas and methods for training the end user on the operation of their equipment. We expect technicians in our courses
to already have skills in electronics, electrical circuitry and mechanical aptitude.

What we don't do in training is individual device/component specifications, the proper application and use of a device and the conditions for when or where a device will work.

This comes down to each company's policies and the procedures they use to instruct their sales, service and installation teams in product knowledge and application.

One of the challenges I have faced over the years is in the residential arena. Many if not most homeowners get alarm systems after a break-in. The police come out to write a report for their insurance company and the victims ask them questions about security.

Most of the time when I'm sitting with homeowners after a break-in they tell me that the police (who are the authority in their minds) have told them they need a security system with glass break detection devices. This way the alarm is sounding before the burglars even get inside.

This sounds wonderful to a traumatized homeowner. The problem I have experienced is that in most cases a long range glass break detector is ineffective due to the type of environment homes have.

If you install a long range glass break detector to protect a store's front windows where the glass will never be covered, there are tile or wooden floors, no solid obstructions between the window and detector, no window tint or impact glass and the detector is mounted, adjusted and tested correctly to the manufacturers specifications by a trained knowledgeable installer using the right testing equipment … then it should work fine.

I've spoken with installers and service techs that tell me they don't have a glass break simulator or don't feel they need one. Instead they pound on the wall and rattle their keys or stand under the detector, clap their hands and hiss through their teeth to test it.
Some just install it and don't try testing it at all. They send signals by pulling wires on the control panel. This is where a person's character and moral compass comes into play.

I have been in many homes where a long range glass break detector was mounted on the ceiling in the bedroom hallway centrally located in the house. The homeowner was told by the sales rep that this device has a 25 to 30 foot range in all directions so all the glass will be protected in their 1500 square foot home. Then the installers show up and know if they don't install this job they won't get paid so ... they install it!!!

The way glass break detector manufacturers reps have trained in the past is that these devices work on line of sight within the prescribed distance range. It triggers an event when it hears a low frequency thud or FLEX, followed by a high frequency shatter. If you're standing outside the building looking in through a window and you can see the detector then that window should be protected. You can't have any solid obstructions between the device and the glass. It can't hear through walls, around corners, through doors or behind itself and the glass panes must be a minimum of one square foot in size.

That means the glass must be at least 12 inches tall and 12 inches wide NOT 6 inches by 24 inches. (if I am out of date on this info please let me know)

Some rooms are considered DEAD because they have sound absorbing objects that kill the frequencies. In dead rooms you need to extremely shorten the recommended distance for them to work. You should avoid HOT rooms like tiled bathrooms. If the toilet seat drops, the rubber hitting the porcelain creates a low frequency thud that bounces around off the tiles and creates a high frequency follower that triggers the detector and a siren.

Your customer will love that in the middle of the night.

So lets look at what a long range glass break detector has to contend with in a residential
environment. We have:
(1) thick sound absorbing furniture that gets moved or added by the homeowner
(2) plush sound absorbing carpets and area rugs
(3) textured wall paper (that might be added after installation)
(4) window treatments and valances
(5) vertical and horizontal blinds
(6) pull down shades
(7) inside shutters
(8) curtains
(9) fabric wall hangings
(10) window tint (no shatter)
(11) impact glass (no shatter)
(12) room dividing screens that the homeowner moves around
(13) slamming cabinet doors (many kitchens are hot rooms)
(14) barking dogs that jump on furniture, walls, doors and windows
(15) loud booming thunder
(16) sliding glass doors that break into 10,000 pieces with no shatter frequency
(17) burglars that cut glass
(18) burglars that remove glass
(19) Jalousie windows (too narrow to detect)
(20) Awning windows (many are too narrow to detect)
(21) people drop plates on tile floors (hot room effect)
(22) television shows can trip them
(23) stereo music can trip them
(24) incorrectly placed or improperly adjusted devices
(25) untested devices
(26) burglars using automotive glass break tools (no low frequency thud or flex)
(27) burglars using Ninja Rocks (no low frequency thud or flex)

All of these conditions or situations in a residence can cause either false alarms or undetected/missed burglaries. The long range glass break detector does have its place in our industry. It is a perimeter detection device and should be used in conjunction with interior protection. Professionals are careful and mindful of why, where, when and how to use any alarm equipment.

A good home security system includes back-up inside trap zones. These can be motion detectors in vulnerable areas or inside door, cabinet or drawer contacts that are normally closed and programmed as interior follower zones. Statistically, when burglars get inside a home they first go everywhere and open things throughout the home in the first 20 to 30 seconds. They look for anyone in the home and for all the ways to escape in case someone arrives. After that, they start looking for the good stuff. Better to detect burglars 5 to 10 seconds after entry than to miss them completely.

The only thing that can stop a smash and grab is a homeowner with a shotgun. What a security system stops are burglars being in the home long enough to get to all the good stuff while destroying the house and the homeowners mental sanctuary in the process.

Remember: Our customers rely on us to be Security Professionals.

Hope you enjoyed this. Please know your comments are welcomed and as always,

Thanks for Your Support

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Not only were they broken into...

by Dale Burger

For 24 years I have been in the security industry selling, installing and monitoring home and office burglar alarm systems. In that time I've seen a lot of scary and hurtful things happen. Most break-ins are done by kids, drug addicts and gangs looking for drugs or items they can pawn for money to buy drugs. When they are in a home they are not nice about it. It's estimated that approximately 84% of burglaries are somehow drug related.

Recently there have been some changes to this pattern. In the last few months I know of three homes that not only were they broken into...their refrigerators and freezers were completely cleaned out. They lost some valuables and cash but also lost hundreds of dollars from the food taken. These have become crimes of desperation.

At one of these homes they also took 3 spools of 12 gauge copper wire from the garage which can be sold to a recycling center for quite a bit of cash. So if you think you don't have anything worth stealing, you might want to reconsider what you do have.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Now this one takes the cake ...

by Dale Burger

We got a call on Monday morning from Ed and Jean who wanted information about an alarm system. They sounded desperate so I immediately went to visit them. Ed and Jean met me at the door and as I entered the home I asked if they had just bought the house. They shook their heads and told me their story.

They had lived in this house for the past eleven years. That weekend they went out of town to their Son's college graduation. When they came home their next door neighbors were outside and surprised to see them. The neighbors thought they had moved away without saying goodbye.

When Ed asked why would they think that, the neighbors replied, 'Because of the moving van.'

While they were gone a moving van pulled into their driveway. Four big guys got out of the truck and started loading all the contents of the house into the moving van. They worked hard for hours and the neighbors had even given them iced tea.

The house was completely emptied. All the food, dirty laundry, even the rags in the garage, everything just gone. Jean said they even took the dirty dishes out of the dishwasher, and the Cake from the Fridge.

Friday, September 13, 2013

When should I use my Alarm System?

by Paul Alcock

At each install, our Techs are trained to teach the home owner or business owner how to use the Alarm System and they all have an Arm Stay and Arm Away option, but when should you use those features?

The difference on most alarm systems is simple: The Motion Detectors are not active when the System is in the Armed Stay Mode. This is ideal when someone is inside the premises. That way, if anyone opens a protected door or window the Siren will go off.

So the Armed Stay Mode is used when someone is home, usually when sleeping at night.

The Armed Away Mode activates all detection devices. This is the mode used when everyone is leaving the premises. If there is movement inside then that would trigger a Motion Detector.

The mistake often made is to leave the system disarmed when leaving the home or office for a short period. We frequently hear reports from customers that 'Just went out to the store for 20 minutes!' and in that short time a break-in occurred. That turns into an expensive trip to the store!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

She cried “all the windows have to be secure.”

She cried “all the windows have to be secure.”

There are many ways you can secure your home and the least expensive way is to secure all the doors and use 1 or 2 motion detectors as back-up. Then you can buy additional inexpensive window locks and install them on your windows. This will secure the average home 97% to 98%. If you want the windows added to the security system this will increase the security level to about 99% at quite an additional cost. No matter how much you spend you can not make your home 100% secure.

Everybody's security needs are different because of their past experiences.

I was with this young couple with a 4 year old daughter and a 6 year old son. They had been married for 11 years and lived in this house 9 years. There had been break-ins in the neighborhood and they decided to get an alarm system.

We designed the system to cover the doors, use a motion detector and he would get and install the window locks we discussed. We scheduled an install date and I was ready to leave. The wife gave me a hug and said she would feel so much better when she knew the widows were secure.

At this point I knew we had a problem. I stopped and explained to her that we were doing the doors and her husband was getting the window locks. She looked at me and her husband and cried “all the windows have to be secure.” Immediately he was concerned about the price but she insisted that the windows had to be done.

Standing there I took her hand and said “obviously you have a reason for feeling this way, would you mind sharing it with me.” Her eyes locked onto mine and she blurted “I was 12 years old, they broke in through my bedroom window I hid under the bed for hours and thought I was going to die!” After 11 years of marriage he had no idea this had happened to his wife.

We installed a full perimeter security system in their home. Two months later I got a letter from the husband thanking me for what we did. He said that now, for the first time since he's known his wife, she now sleeps soundly through the entire night.


Monday, September 9, 2013

They didn't need an alarm system because Mom was always home.

By Dale Burger

In 1989 I made a career change and went into the alarm industry. In my second month I met with a couple to discuss having an alarm installed in their home. They were doing well and had all the latest electronic toys and other nice things in the house. At the end of my visit they decided not to get an alarm system because her mother lived with them and was always home.

About a month later my pager started repeatedly going off. (didn't have a cell phone in 1989) I stopped at a payphone and called the number in my pager. A woman answered and when I said who I was she screamed “Why didn't you make us take the alarm system!

I drove directly to their home and the police were still there dusting for fingerprints. I learned that Mom left the house for 45 minutes to do the grocery shopping. Obviously the burglars saw her leave. The police figured there were 3 or maybe 4 of them and the damage was extensive.

They pried open the family room sliding glass door and threw the curtain back so hard that the curtain rod came out of the wall. In the kitchen they smashed a gallon of milk against the wall, drank all the beer in the fridge and stole the prescription drugs in the cabinet.

In the bedrooms the dresser drawers had been pulled out, thrown across the room and smashed into the wall sending the contents of the drawers everywhere. The beds were overturned, the jewelry, cameras and guns were taken and an undetermined amount of cash stolen.

In the living room was a state of the art large screen back projection TV. Next to it was a beautiful vase on a pedestal. Since the TV was too large to take they threw the vase through the TV. Then someone defecated on the living room rug, picked it up and smeared it on the wall like a rainbow. Add to this that everything had been thrown from the shelves, cushions overturned and the police fingerprint dusting was everywhere.

Imagine coming home to this type of disaster. The estimated loss from stolen property was $21,000.00 and estimated damages were $27,000.00. Then to add insult to injury after they got the insurance claim money their homeowners insurance policy was canceled. When they got another insurance carrier the rate was $400.00 a year higher. (remember these are 1989 prices)

Fact is most people get a security system after a break-in and that's just a shame.