Thinking outside the box of home security

security
alarm

(DanG) #1

I have completely abandoned the idea of traditional home security. Consider this; you call any one of a dozen security companies and choose their traditional package. The package typically consists of a few door switches and a few motion detectors connected to a hard-wire phone line, or for a few dollars more per month a backup cellular connection.

Great! Your all set, right? Maybe you “feel” more secure, but are you really?

There are thousands of home security videos out there that show home and business break-ins’
Going by my personal experience as well as seeing many dozens of videos, all the traditional home security system does is tell the intruder they have X minutes to finish up their crime. Even with physical alarms blaring most burglars just keep right on going. Why? Because, just like car alarms, nearly everyone ignores them.

Here is the crime scenario;

You lockup the house before leaving for work, you set the alarm as you walk out the door. You feel protected,
great! At 10AM the intruder(s) posing as utility workers arrive and begin casing the exterior looking for an easy and discreet entry. Nobody pays attention because the criminals fit right it. Of course the first thing they do is check for unlocked doors, then sliding doors and finally windows. It may take a minute or two but the crime is ALREADY in progress.

Okay, the criminals find their POE (point of entry), and choose an easy to breach sliding door. Out comes the trusty pry bar and they go to work and within seconds their in. Hopefully the sliding door had a sensor and detected the intrusion. Great! It has one and assuming that there is zero delay (waiting upwards to one minute for someone to enter a keypad number, which 99% of them due because of false alarms) the system its now dialing a phone number using a 1990s data modem to connect to the central data center. Another thirty seconds pass before the intrusion pops up on someone’s screen in Bangladesh.

Because nine out of ten alarm drops turn out to be false
alarms, the alarm company will first attempt to contact the key holder (you)
before contacting police. Their in luck, they got a hold of you within two
minutes. After another thirty seconds confirming that it isn’t you that caused
the alarm they contact the police. It can take anywhere from three to eight
minutes before the dispatch is delivered to the patrolling car, and that is
assuming it isn’t already busy on some other matter. In most suburb
neighborhoods residential alarms are lower priority (due to the majority of
them being false alarms) but your in luck today and the police car isn’t busy
when they get the call. On average there is a police car within two miles.

The traditional home security timeline;
10:00AM the criminals arrived at your house and begin looking for entry.
10:02AM the criminals choose a rear sliding door.
10:03AM their in!
10:04AM the alarm drops and begins calling the alarm central.
10:05AM the alarm drop pops up on their screen and they contact the key holder
10:07AM its determined that it isn’t you that caused the alarm.
10:08AM the call is made to the police.
10:11AM the alarm drop is dispatched to the patrolling police car.
10:15AM the police arrive at your home only to discover the criminals already left.

This is a very realistic (best case) scenario which gives the criminals a whopping fifteen minutes. If this break-in happens in a much busier community this time will dramatically rise.

My solution;

Using SmartThings along with MultiSensors on all doors and
windows, I not only place sensors on the interior doors I also place sensors on
the outside storm/screen doors.

My SmartThings hub is connected to a 3G network as well as
being backed up by battery. Even if the criminals are smart enough to cut power
and phone before break-in it still keeps my system in tact. The majority of
home security systems rely totally on phone lines.

Because I have it set to alert me (push/text) whenever there
is a door opened I get the alert right at 10AM when they opened the screen door
only to discover the main door locked.

Because anyone can open an outside door it doesn’t mean the
home is being broken into. That is why I have a separate (not connected to
SmartThings) video surveillance setup. Once I get the alert I can bring up
video within ten seconds to see what is going on. If I determine it is in fact
a home burglary I call my local police directly (NOT using 911) I alert them
that I have confirmation my home is in the process of being burglarized and
have them on video. Because the police know it isn’t a false alarm the priority
goes up. Even if they were to somehow disable my video surveillance I would
still know someone entered the house because the next notification comes from
an interior door or window. That would be followed up by another notification
that there was interior motion.

The SmartThings security timeline;

10:00AM the criminals arrived at your house and begin looking for entry.
10:00AM because they opened one of the outside doors, I am already alerted.
10:01AM I check my cameras and determine its a real breaking.
10:02AM I call my local police and alert them
10:03AM Because they know the crime is real and not just another false alarm it gets dispatched immediately.
10:06AM Police arrive on scene and catch the criminals in the act.

Time saved: nine minutes. Capturing the criminals in the act, priceless.

In closing, this is only one possible scenario out of
hundreds and nothing is without risk of failure, but in all cases TIME matters.
The quicker a (real) crime is reported the better. Of course everyone is at the
mercy of their police department and the larger and more busy it is, directly
reflects on response time. But even in a big city if it can me communicated
that there is real a crime in progress and not just another false alarm YOU
WILL get a better response. Will it be quick enough? Well, that is out of your hands but at least you have shortened the reporting window by nearly ten minutes.


(Paul Haskins) #2

10:02AM I call my local police and alert them
10:03AM Because they know the crime is real and not just another false alarm it gets dispatched immediately.
10:06AM Police arrive on scene and catch the criminals in the act.

For me that 10:06 would be more like 10:36… or longer.


#3

Smartthings is cloud based. See the recent issues regarding delays. Delay in cloud = delay in your alarm system.

Your phone may also be out of reception, meaning you would not receive any alert what so ever, at least until you are back in signal range.

In my opinion handing over the primary security role to smarthings, or any other cloud based smart entity, is foolhardy.

Again in my opinion, the best security system will deter thieves from attacking your house in the first place. As I posted on another thread somewhere, if you are with a bunch of guys running away from a bear, you only need to outrun one of the other guys, not the bear. A few cameras, and enough stickers stating 24hr monitoring in progress, and the theives will just pass up on your house and go for a neighbour without that security.


#4

The scenario as you describe is not one that SmartThings is currently able to do.

In Particular:

My SmartThings hub is connected to a 3G network as well as
being backed up by battery. Even if the criminals are smart enough to cut power and phone before break-in it still keeps my system in tact. The majority of home security systems rely totally on phone lines.

SmartThings hub does not have 3G network capability. Even more importantly, all of its notification processing is done in the smartthings cloud. It won’t send notifications if your cloud account is not available, even if you have somehow added your own 3G system to your own UPS. It won’t even do push notifications to your own phone on your own Home WiFi except by going to the cloud first.

In addition, the majority of home security systems in the US do not rely on phone lines – – they almost all have cellular communications. SmartThings is actually very unusual in not having this feature.

What you described can certainly be done by most of the popular DIY security systems that are currently on the market in the US, including Abode, simplisafe, scout, Lowe’s Iris, frontpoint, novi, and others. Some only offer it as an extra option where you have to buy a dongle and pay a monthly fee, others included in their base system, but it’s an option.

But it unfortunately can’t be done with SmartThings, if only because of the notifications issue.


(DanG) #5

I didn’t say my hub was 3G capable. I said it IS connected to a 3G network and has been for over two years now. The hub has an Ethernet connection and there are numerous options (discussed elsewhere) on how that is done. In some cases, namely in my case, costs nothing.

I know of at least 6 people with home security systems and only one chose to go with a cellular connection, the rest, including an install less than two months ago IS connected to a phone line. Not sure where you are but it certainly isn’t the case here.

Pick at it all you like, it works and its proven itself to me. I have a setup that works better, faster and with no monthly fees.


#6

If it works for you, that’s excellent, and obviously what’s most important. :sunglasses:

What do you do about platform/hub updates which SmartThings pushes out and which customers cannot postpone or refuse? Those will take the system off-line for anywhere from 10 minutes to a couple of hours. We do usually get a couple of days advance notice, but not always. Do you just do without your security system during those times?


(DanG) #7

Again, not a problem for me as I am on a V1 hub. Can’t think of the last time (or seen in the logs) where the hub was offline for more than a minute. And when that rarely happens the delay is less that 20 seconds.


(Brian Harding) #8

If your Smartthings system is working great for you then that is fantastic but mine isn’t reliable enough for me. I went to visit a family member that lives about 20 minutes from my home and I have ST set up to notify me when I have left my geofence area. After ariving and being there about 10 to 20 minutes I finally got the message that I had left the house. I also have ST set up to notify me when my wife arrives within the geofence area. Often she is already home 10 to 15 minutes before I get the notification. Many times I have left the house only to find ST so slow in arming that I could not arm it. I have also arrived home, disarmed the system only to have sirens go off, lights turn on and intrusion alerts.
Face it, there is no perfect system. If you leave your valuables at home no alarm system will prevent them from being stolen. Your power and internet connections can be cut thus rendering your system useless. That is why I chose a purely cellular Alarm System with battery backup that I can hide from intruders.
The key here video surveillance, Having both wired and battery operated cameras, some visible and some hidden will give you a better chance of identifying the crooks after the crime.


(DanG) #9

That’s great. You have backup power and a cellular connection like I do. I agree that it is a very wise thing to do when it comes to security systems. Now all that needs to improve for the traditional security systems is to reduce false alarms and react much quicker

Edited:

I have several hardwired security cameras (all battery backed up) that provide full coverage of all outside areas. I run 4K cameras so clarity isn’t a problem. Camera are positioned that no one can be disabled without being in view of other cameras.


(Marc) #10

While most of your statements regarding traditional home security systems are true, I personally have Simplisafe (which is based on an old model with newer technologies) more for fire department notification in the event a CO/Smoke Alarm is detected which can perhaps save a human or our dog’s life. I think my cameras that I bought from Costco provide more security protection than Simplisafe.


(Brian Harding) #11

Having been the victim of a home burglary, I take this subject very seriously. My wife almost walked in on the burglars coming home from work on a dark winters evening. Fortunately, the thieves were only looking for the usual high value items and not interested in identity theft as there were plenty of those items they could have taken. I learned a lot due this burglary.
Leave your important papers and jewelry in a bank safety deposit box. Shred all unnecessary .papers you get in the mail. Find other places to store your other valuables and make a good plan for your home security.
Burglars are very smart and there may be nothing you can do to prevent items from being stolen, but without some good evidence the police can use, such as video clips, your case will be forgotten as soon as the police leave. Speedy notifications of an intrusion may help the police catch the crooks on your property, but don’t stake your life on it.
Thieves can disable your security system once they are in your home if they have the time, but hopefully you already have evidence before that happens.
Lastly, think like a burglar when making your security plan. Try to prevent the burglary from happening before they intrude into your house. Try to delay them by having nothing valuable that they can find so that they stay longer than they originally planned. Have a variety of systems that duplicate or compliment each other.


#12

There is another recent thread similar in some ways to this one.


(Brian Harding) #13

@an39511 -

“I have several hardwired security cameras (all battery backed up) that provide full coverage of all outside areas. I run 4K cameras so clarity isn’t a problem. Camera are positioned that no one can be disabled without being in view of other cameras.”

This is the last part of my security that I am working on. Would you mind telling what the cameras you are using are? I have been looking at this company: http://www.security-camera-warehouse.com/?gclid=CJTXgcf80M8CFUk8gQod3oAEeA

Thanks


(Jason "The Enabler" as deemed so by @Smart) #14

I find it cheaper just to live in 40 year old mobile home with a trashy yard. A burgler looks at my place and says “I ain’t got no time for that sh*t hole”


(DanG) #15

I run several IPC4K11 hardwired cameras all connected using POE. All the cameras and the NVR are all UPS backed up.
Because these are IP cameras they all work independently but I use Genius vision NVR to store all the recordings.


(Pizzinini) #16

There is an app in the Marketplace “other” category called Door Knocker. Smartthings Multis can detect acceleration. If I try to open my door and it is actually locked, this sensor sends me a message. It works quite well.
I don’t trust Smartthings as my home alarm but I use it as a backup that is far more sensitive than the professional alarm. Besides the occasional false alarm, it actually works quite well.
Thanks to the DigitalLife connection through Homecloud and the integration by @ady624 I am actually also using the sensors from my professional alarm in SmartThings.


(Marc) #17

This is another good point. I use Simplisafe as my professional primary alarm system and ST as my backup. It’s good to have defense in depth. Besides that, I also have a hardwired Swann camera system along with a Ring doorbell. I’d say that I am comfortable with my home security because of the many different technologies I am using.


#18

I don’t think anyone is “picking at it”, more pointing out issues that could be pottential flaws - which is really what should be done with any security system to highlight possible oversights.

The only way any system will prove itself, is when a real life scenario occurs - which should hopefully be never. As I said, the best thing any security system can do is deter thieves so they walk on by. I would guess that your cameras are doing just that. Why bother even attempting a house that has security like that, when they could just go to a neighbour that doesn’t have any.

In the past, it used to be an alarm box was a deterent because they were loud and noisy and neighbours looked out for one another. Now they are common and nobody bothers to look if they hear an alarm going off. Today its all about being caught after the event, and thats where cameras come in. Camareas and flood lights are now doing what alarm boxes did in the 1970s.


(Brian Harding) #19

I had originally ordered AT&T Digital Life but it turned out, (at that time), that it was a hard wired system and the installer was going to cut holes in my walls and run cables through my attic so I decided to send the system back. While I was searching for a different alarm system is when the burglary occurred. I initially purchased Smartthings and loved it, but then it started acting up, had too many false alarms and very slow notifications and arm/disarm times so I decided to purchase a professional 24/7 monitored security system.There are also many times in my travels that I do not get a phone signal, (such as when I am in the mountains or at the hospital, etc.) so relying solely on ST and my cell phone are simply not enough. Flase Alarms to police can become very expensive,
I went with Frontpoint which I cannot say enough good things about. My wife thinks I am crazy as we no longer keep anything of significant value at home, but I am determined to try to identify and hopefully catch future burglars. After a lot of study and doing all the things to “harden” my home I came to the conclusion that tit would be impossible to prevent the thieves from coming into the home but unlike last time I will have evidence for the police and a much quicker notification that an intrusion has occurred,


(Brian Harding) #20

@redball

In the past, it used to be an alarm box was a deterent because they were loud and noisy and neighbours looked out for one another. Now they are common and nobody bothers to look if they hear an alarm going off. Today its all about being caught after the event, and thats where cameras come in. Camareas and flood lights are now doing what alarm boxes did in the 1970s.

I agree 100%