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Ask a cop: Are security systems worth the money?

How to buy the right Security/Surveillance System

Ask a cop: Are security systems worth the money?

I was at lunch the other day with a couple of my law enforcement friends who were on-duty and in uniform. As so often happens, another patron having lunch came over to the table and asked my friends if they felt that surveillance cameras were worth the money. Their energetic responses are always the same and worth discussing here.

They start out by asking what they hope to get out of having a system. The response they receive most often is “for the protection of family.”

They then ask what their goal is with the alarm system. Do they want to prevent the burglars from getting in and stealing anything, or do they want to try to catch the burglars after the fact — or both? They then talk about how affordable and reliable today’s audible burglar alarms are and that go off as soon as an intruder opens a door or window.

Unfortunately, if the burglars know you aren't home, or they're brave, they can disable many alarms quickly and continue to steal everything you own before the offices have time to respond. This comment always leads to the value of a high-resolution, multi-camera surveillance system.

You can go with a surveillance system and have cameras positioned to catch the criminals in the act so you can review the recordings later and provide them to police.

The officers then comment that what they too often see is cameras that are terribly positioned and “all we get are blurry photos of the suspect or the back of their head.” “Even if we do get a good image of the suspect, it usually doesn't come with a name unless someone knows them.”

On the other hand, some of the home security systems out there are actually getting really good. They feature a combination of audible alarms, intrusion sensors and surveillance systems. They are also combined with a mobile app that sends you an alert and live video of what's happening at your house. “I think a system like that is the best option right now. Unfortunately, those systems are expensive.”

Camera placement and resolution is paramount with the cheaper analog systems competing on price but often unable to get a decent picture of the intruder’s face.

Now that the weather is warm and more people are out at night, it's a good idea to evaluate your residence and see what you can do to tighten it up. Whether it's lighting, locks or an alarm/surveillance system, no one likes to be the victim of a burglary. Get to know your neighbors because they are the ones calling the police on someone suspicious on your property before they get into your house.

In my next blog post I will discuss the differences between an analog and digital surveillance system and why resolution and camera position are so critical.