A common question we hear from our customers is, “Which is better, a burglar alarm or a camera system?”. In my experience it depends on who you are talking to on which answer you will receive. I have heard the argument of both sides and I would like to share my thoughts. I could probably write a novel on this subject, but I will keep it short and sweet.
First, let’s discuss what the goal of having a security system of any kind is. For the purpose of this article let’s assume that the goal of a security system is to deter theft and vandalism, and to collect information for the authorities if/when theft or vandalism occurs.
Statistics prove that a burglar alarm is in fact a deterrent for burglaries. As far as deterring vandalism our company uses exterior beams, and motion detectors with a very loud exterior siren/strobe in line with the burglar alarm. Basically the beams and motions create a perimeter around the area needing protection. Once the perimeter is broken, such as somebody walking past one of the sensors, the exterior siren sounds and the strobe light turns on. This has proven to be a great deterrent for our company here in Las Vegas. A burglar alarm can also give important information to authorities such as the time/date of the crime and the areas that were breached.
There are very little statistics to support the deterrent value of a camera system alone. However, I am sure it does give some deterrent value. For example I have seen the criminals that aren’t “professional” be deterred from a camera system. But there is very little to deter a “professional” criminal cameras or otherwise. Once a crime has happened, cameras are a great way to collect information for the authorities. Not only a time/date stamp but also facts such as sex and height of the perpetrator.
With only the things we discussed considered, the score is about even. Let’s add a couple more factors, cost and effectiveness. Cost is the easiest. The traditional burglar alarm is more cost effective than a traditional 4 cameras and DVR camera system. Once you add bells and whistles the line between the two can blur. But speaking in general terms the add-ons for an alarm are less expensive then the add-ons for a camera system. Effectiveness is where things get tricky. Both serve their purpose, a burglar alarm sounds and alerts you when there is a breach, a camera system records video of the areas in view. The thing I most often find myself saying is this, with an alarm, there is a limited amount of time the criminal is able to steal or vandal, assuming you have wisely chosen Brantley Security to monitor your system. You also are able to deal with issues such as broken windows, kicked open doors etc. within a reasonable time frame to eliminate multiple thefts. With a camera system, you are watching the criminal commit the crime with an unlimited time frame, after the fact. Not to mention you may or may not have be notified of the event until hours or days later, leaving your property open for further theft or vandalism. So what does this all mean? In my humble opinion, a burglar alarm is more effective in deterring theft and vandalism than a camera system. But wait there’s more. Combining the two together is your golden ticket. Being alerted of an event as it happens (with your burglar alarm), and watching the video of such event (with your cameras remotely) in a timely manner is the most effective way of protecting your assets and loved ones. Not only will you be able to practically eliminate false alarms, but in the event there is a crime being committed you will have the full picture for the authorities. The authorities will respond faster, and you may have a chance of catching someone in the act.
If I led you to believe that I was going to vote one way or the other, sorry. I do think the way of the future is using video and alarms together. But if you must choose between the two, an alarm wins in my book every time.