Security Systems

How To Disable Your Alarm System: Learn Your Vulnerabilities Before A Burglar Does

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Illustration of hand on alarm system control (Caption: How To Disable An Alarm System)What you don’t know can hurt you when it comes to home security systems. Do you know how easy it is to disable an alarm system? Burglars do, and you should too so you can prevent a break-in. You may also need this information in case your system malfunctions.

Article Overview

How To Disable My Security System

We want to preface this by stating that each security system is different, and these steps may work for traditional hardwired systems but not newer smart home systems. Before you take any action, please know that you may be financially responsible for any damage you cause to the system.

  1. Remove the AC power from the main access panel of your security system by unplugging it from the wall outlet.
  2. Use a small item (e.g., a screw) to unlock and open the back of the panel.
  3. Disconnect at least one of the wires attached to the battery.

It’s kind of scary to learn how easy it is to disable a security system, isn’t it? What else do thieves know that homeowners don’t?

Is Your System Vulnerable? Consider A Cellular System

The advantage of cellular systems is that they are very difficult to disable. A system with a landline (telephone) connection, for example, is vulnerable if the phone line is cut. This is specially an issue in older homes where the lines are more accessible on the exterior of the house. Systems with a cable Internet connection face this same vulnerability potentially.

Cellular systems, meanwhile, are protected from this vulnerability because the system relies on a cellular connection which is a lot more difficult to disable. Some of these systems also offer a layer of protection for the control panel that prevents a burglar from disabling the system by breaking the panel. How does this work? The system regularly checks for an “online” signal from the panel, if that’s not received (i.e. if the panel has been smashed) the system is remotely put into a break-in state.

Frontpoint security was one of the first companies to offer these protections, but there are now others. Read our home alarm system reviews to find out which providers offer cellular protection, and read about the different types of monitoring to learn more about the stations monitoring home alarm systems and how signals are sent back and forth.

How Do Burglars Outsmart Security Systems?

You may have heard of criminals using frequency jammers, which are transmitters used to prevent signals from reaching the control panel of a security system, resulting in an alarm not being triggered. The jammer suppresses the alarm that the monitoring station receives when a security system is triggered.

A burglar equipped with a jammer could walk through your front door, peruse your living room and rummage through your office without triggering a single alarm. Some systems have anti-jamming technology, which emits an audible alarm to the homeowner and notifies the monitoring company immediately when it detects the use of a jammer.

How To Prevent A Burglar From Disarming My Security System

There are certain things burglars look for when they decide to target a house. Knowledge is power. Below are some tips to keep a burglar out of your home and away from your security system.

Don’t Display Your Specific Security System With Signs

While it’s a good idea to post signs on your lawn that a security system monitors your home, it isn’t always a good idea to display the exact company you use.

If you post signs stating your home is secured with company A, for example, you’re giving criminals a leg up on how to potentially disarm the system. They can research the system and find its flaws, so they can disarm the system easier.

Don’t have the funds for a system? At a minimum, consider purchasing a generic alarm sign to deter intruders (often times the first things burglars will do when canvassing a neighborhood is take note of all the houses without security).

Backup Power Supply

Most security systems plug into an outlet for their power supply. A burglar could cut the power to your home which would then disarm your system — unless your system has a built-in battery backup power supply.

Battery backup can keep your home protected for a set amount of time (often 24 hours) until your power is back on. It’s important to make sure your security system has battery backup, so you’re protected in these instances and during random power outages too.

Think Like A Criminal

Ask yourself, “How would I break into this home?” Are there shrubs blocking windows? Is there poor lighting by the back door? If you answered yes to these questions, you’ve got work to do.

Adjust your landscaping to prevent criminals from being able to conceal themselves easily. Install outdoor lighting to help illuminate access points to your home.

Which U.S. Cities Have The Most Burglaries?

You may be curious if your city is among the most susceptible to home break-ins and burglaries. If so, here’s the top 20 cities in the U.S. with burglaries per 100,000 people according to the FBI1 (the higher the number, the higher the chance of burglary).  This list may help you better understand if you are at greater risk of a home break-in than the average American.

Rank City Burglaries per 100,000
1 Cleveland, OH 1,518.87
2 Memphis, TN 1,460.25
3 Baton Rouge, LA 1,418.63
4 Tulsa, OK 1,376.75
5 Baltimore, MD 1,311.28
6 Albuquerque, NM 1,246.23
7 Detroit, MI 1,231.08
8 Mobile, AL 1,216.84
9 Cincinnati, OH 1,152.73
10 Toledo, OH 1,119.75
11 Des Moines, IA 1,099.06
12 Seattle, WA 1,081.98
13 Indianapolis, IN 1,027.23
14 Spokane, WA 1,023.19
15 St. Louis, MO 1,011.33
16 San Bernardino, CA 983.16
17 Bakersfield, CA 962.08
18 Kansas City, MO 960.52
19 Oklahoma City, OK 941.75
20 Milwaukee, WI 927.13

And, if you’re wondering how quickly you can get help in your area? See if your city has the fastest (or slowest) police response times.

How To Catch A Burglar

One of the best ways to capture a burglar is with a security camera. Make sure you purchase a high-quality one, so it records clear footage of the person’s face. If you need help knowing where to install your cameras, so you are more likely to catch a criminal, read our camera placement guide.

Source: [1] FBI Uniform Crime Report 2017 

Kimberly Alt

Kimberly is our home security expert and has been writing about security and safety since 2013, covering everything from security systems and home automation to identity theft protection, home warranties, medical alert systems, and more. She has personally tested hundreds of system components and interfaced with dozens of home security companies to find out what’s happening behind the scenes. Her work has appeared in many notable brands, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Reader's Digest, Forbes, People, Woman's World, and Huffington Post. In 2018, she had her first child, which opened up a whole new avenue of security experience with baby gear. She wanted to purchase the safest items for her family. Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. Her natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing, and personally testing products and services.

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