Home Security Basics

A home security system is essential for many modern residences. While ancient homes were often guarded by dogs or armed men and fortified by high walls, homes in 21st century first-world towns often opt for an electronic sentinel, and for good reason. Electronic security systems are more reliable and easier to use than virtually any other system currently available. With the push of a button, a home can be made much more difficult to burglarize successfully.

Many people don’t trust burglar alarms, citing a high incidence of malfunction. They claim that alarms can be picked or by-passed, and that more traditional methods, such as keeping a dog, should be used. However, dogs are not as reliable as most people think, and may create a false sense of security. While a dog can often be counted on to bark at an intruder, many dogs will not defend the home as fiercely as a homeowner expects. The very qualities that make dogs good pets mean that a burglar can befriend the dog and prevent it from defending the home. Even more sinister is the possibility that a dog could be harmed by a thief, incapacitating it, perhaps permanently.

By contrast, an alarm system cannot be disabled without proper training and skill. Even with this skill, a good alarm system will send text messages to the homeowner if it has been disabled, which even the best dog cannot do.

Security Systems

If a security system is installed, the areas that it monitors should be thorough. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and a security system is only as strong as its easiest break-in point. It does no good to have a bulletproof front door if someone can simply walk in the back door. A security system will always secure the front door, but thieves know this, and don’t often attack here, since it is usually the strongest point. Most skilled burglars will break in to back doors or side windows. Probably you have a window in your house that is unlocked, right now. Bathroom windows, which are often small and high, are often left unlocked, since they are used to ventilate the room.


A security system can arm a window in two ways. One way is by aligning a magnet on the window frame with a corresponding reed switch on the sill. When the window is slid open, the circuit is broken, triggering the alarm. While this method is easy to install, cheap and simple, it is useless if someone breaks the window and crawls through. While most amateur thieves will break a window only to reach through and unlatch and open it, a skilled burglar will recognize this type of alarm and avoid tripping it by crawling through.

The second type of window alarm uses a foil decal on the surface of the glass. The decal runs around the perimeter of the window, and a light current is run through it. Essentially, the foil decal is a wire that functions much like the reed switch in the first example. If the window glass is broken, the foil breaks with it, which sets off the alarm. This type of trip mechanism is much harder to defeat. A professional burglar can still sometimes get through the glass without breaking the foil, but this is extremely difficult, and requires special tools.


Doors should be armed with a security system using a reed switch or motion sensor. High end monitoring systems (such as those used at banks and other high-security properties) use a motion detector or auditory sensors. These electronic “eyes” and “ears” are able to keep track of whether the building is occupied or not far better than a simple door monitor. For the best system, use a door switch combined with one or more infrared or other auxiliary sensors.

Doors should also be equipped with a strong deadbolt, one that is not spring loaded in any way (hence, “dead”). This will ensure that the latch cannot be slipped with a credit card. According to professional burglar turned home security advisor Jack MacLean, locks should be Medeco brand. Apparently, this type of lock is the hardest to pick – nearly impossible even for trained locksmiths.


For more information about keeping a home secure, see Titan Alarm, a Phoenix security company, specializing in business and home security systems.

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