The alarming disadvantages of home security systems

August 2018 Perimeter Security, Alarms & Intruder Detection

Traditional home alarm systems started appearing in the consumer market in the 1980s and 1990s. At that time, they were an advance in security technology as they had motion detection, cameras and very few visible wires. They made homeowners feel more secure.

Meraj Hoda.
Meraj Hoda.

But fast forward to today. Compared to newer ‘smart’ counterparts, traditional security systems are quickly becoming very outdated, costly and inefficient – and even worse – they aren’t even that great at preventing burglaries.

It’s important to realise the common pitfalls of older security systems when making informed decisions about how to protect your valuables – and loved ones.

Security systems are poor at burglary prevention

To start, they have many technical limitations:

• Burglars have become skilled at noting the common locations of motion detectors, and can avoid setting them off, according to the FBI.

• Some systems are susceptible to signal interference, with some cases of farm invasions in South Africa having used alarm and cellphone interference technology to access the property.

• Burglars have also learned how to disarm them, according to research by UNISA.

• Security systems may not work during power outages, leaving your home vulnerable.

They don’t protect your privacy

It should be noted that because alarm systems are often ineffective, this means complete strangers can get inside your home. Even if they don’t steal anything, many homeowners will feel their privacy has been violated. Reactive security systems fall very short when it comes to protecting your privacy.

Did you know these facts about false alarms, as discovered by the authors of Freakonomics?

• Between 94 and 99 percent of burglar-alarm calls turn out to be false.

• False alarms make up between 10 and 20 percent of all calls to police.

• False alarms cost millions every year.

Additionally, repeated psychological studies show that false alarms (also referred to as detection theory) reduce our reaction when a real alarm happens. An MIT paper found that response times to alarms reduced significantly after only one false alarm.

Temple University economist Simon Hakim, who has been studying this topic for years, has written a paper with Erwin A. Blackstone and Andrew J. Buck which indicates that response to false alarm activations is a nuisance and a waste of at least 10% of local police budgets. This number is much higher for armed response companies.

Alarm systems are expensive

You may be surprised at the total price of alarm systems. Even the cheaper DIY systems start at around R1000 and quickly increase. Advertisement pricing may relate to the basic systems, which are often inadequate for many situations, so you’ll find yourself adding extras. But that’s not even the worst of it, there are additional costs such as monthly monitoring and installation.

Reactive vs. proactive home security

Home security systems are reactive. In the 1970s, they may have been a security innovation, but they are quickly becoming old and ineffective. They often don’t even stop crime, putting your family and valuables at risk. They allow complete strangers to get into your home, putting your privacy at major risk.

However, with the advent of smart proactive security devices like the Ring Doorbell, you can prevent crimes before they happen. Thanks to two-way talk and motion detection, the burglar won’t even make it into your home. They will often knock on the door or ring the doorbell before attempting to break in and flee the scene upon noticing the doorbell camera or hearing a voice on the other side.

With proactive systems your security, safety and privacy are more protected.

For more information contact Ring,,

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