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Beyond the expected

Recommendations for Security System installation/monitoring?

By kevn - 14 June 2008 30

I was wondering what people’s experience with security systems in and around Canberra is like.

Looking for recommendations around installation and monitoring (I imagine the two are often linked?) Anyone really good? More, importantly, anyone dodgy or slow to respond?

From what I’ve seen I am looking at about $1 a day plus GST for monitoring.

What’s Your opinion?

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30 Responses to
Recommendations for Security System installation/monitoring?
Gungahlin Al 1:51 pm 17 Jun 08

Wow Skid – footnoted comments!? That HAS to be a first for RA…
Before you know it, we’ll have Wiki-style bibliographies.

Skidbladnir 11:52 am 17 Jun 08

In terms of getting a response to a premises (in case of alarm activation or anything else), normally you’re pulling a guard off their normal set run to attend to the premises.

If have satellite tracking of your cars (or guards) of the variety more often used by freight\cargo & asset handling companies for working out exactly where the truck\asset is at a moment’s notice, the control room should be able to get a readout of where the guard is, what direction and speed they’re doing, and a wealth of other information [1].

All it takes is a bit of routine system maintenence to load into the system major points of interest or the location of your patrolled site clients into it, and Robert’s your father’s brother.

One benefit of this is that guards get to have instructions on how to arrive at a site fairly quickly, but as Canberra isn’t particularly big, the roads are good, and you can easily divvy it up into a few areas for patrolling purposes (Lanyon-Tuggeranong-Hume, Tuggeranong-Woden, Weston-Woden, Fyshwick-Inner South-Airport, Queanbeyan, Civic, Belconnen, Mitchell-Belconnen, Mitchell-Gungahlin) getting a car off-patrol to attend to a response becomes a matter of just checking relative distances and getting the closest one there.

It becomes easier if you have multiple cars offset in each area (so one car comes through at 1900hrs, and another does a similar patrol 3 hours later, and then the first guy comes back or you start two cars at roughly equal times at opposite ends of a patrol, etc)

15 minutes really isn’t hard if the organisation is of reasonable size, and the staff are organised.

But, no burglar is going to sit around for 15 minutes with an ear-piercing siren going off.

[1] Other information:
Ever been at a golf course and wondered why the fairway is torn up, but all the gates are locked? Check with Security.
(the minutia of other details can range from “are their doors closed”, “what revs has the engine been doing”, “is the engine at idle”, to “has the panic alarm been hit”)

kevn 6:32 pm 16 Jun 08

Thanks for all the advice, people. Interesting points.

Skidbladnir – a lot to think about in your first post, but what do you mean by ‘track your guards’.

enrique 1:21 pm 16 Jun 08

Try Intelligent Services

U5/ 157 -167 Gladstone St Fyshwick 2609(02) 6239 1100

Skidbladnir 12:12 pm 16 Jun 08

Responses within 10-15 minutes aren’t actually hard to achieve in Canberra if you’re organised, and can track your guards.
But anyone using that as a sales point should be able to back up that claim.

(don’t believe the salesman spin unless its available as a guarantee)

PBO 12:01 pm 16 Jun 08

MIL (thank god they are gone) used to have their patrolmen onsite within 10 mins of an alarm going off (because the patrolmen were the ones ripping off the joints). I think they are called Wilsons now after their boss became a candidate for protein injection trials in Goulburn prison.

Skidbladnir 11:10 am 16 Jun 08

farout said :

Security1 was absoltely hopeless

I could tell a great many anecdotes and probably make some ears burn at both Fair Trading and ASIAL.

They hire people with either no certification and immediately put them on trainee security tickets, or those with a ticket straight out of the course, and have a really low rate of staff retention.
So their average service level is ‘barely there or not at all’ unless you catch one of the people with some experience who are either working the nightshift or are on the day shift trying to improve things.

PS: Alarms which do the calls to mobiles or lists of phone numbers are great, until someone forgets to program the thing correctly and you end up with a huge phone bill.

Special G 8:57 am 16 Jun 08

Home alarm monitoring systems are a waste of your time and money. The company that monitors the system will attend (if this service is paid for) and then let you know your house has been broken into well after the crook has gone. If you are away they may call the Police for you. Otherwise is there really much difference in finding your house broken into 30min or 3 hours after it happens.

As mentioned earlier you can have a system which calls your mobile phone if it activates – these retail for about $800-$1000.

Best solution is to have your house alarmed with screamers/sirens both inside and out. Crooks will break into your house whether you have an alarm or not (preferably not). Although if there is a siren blaring then they are more likely to leave straight away as opposed to taking their time going through all your stuff, as they don’t want to be seen or caught if a neigbour calls the plod.
These systems are available from any hardware store for a little over $100. If you want them hardwired then a sparky will cost you about $80 to do the job.

Security companies are a big business feeding on peoples fears. At the end of the day you pay someone to sit on their arse and collect your cash.

lemaChet 7:37 am 16 Jun 08

We had Kaz do a large scale CCTV installation at our complex. Overall, cost wasn’t too bad.
It’s not a monitored/back to base system though, and only monitors specific areas in the common property.

I had no complaints with the service all the way through. 5 cameras, and the assorted equipment ended up running us.. wow.. 20K or more I think.

Stainless Steel Rat 10:21 pm 15 Jun 08

Get one that doesn’t use one of the companies for monitoring. You can get them so that if the alarm is triggered it rings your mobile and then if you don’t answer it will then go on to the next programmed number (you can put in several). If you’re far away, ask your friendly neighbour to look over the fence for anything suspicious and if there is, call the cops. They’ll probably get there faster!

farout 7:55 pm 15 Jun 08

I should also add that when I wanted to transer my service from my old house to the new one, Security1 was absoltely hopeless – they didn’t turn up at the scheduled time (or the scheduled date for that matter) depite my having made the appointment more than 2 weeks in advance. Not even a call on the day to say they are running late or need to reschedule. This happened three times in succession, as a result of which I was left without monitoring for over a month (despite having paid the monitoring fees in advance for the quarter). I didn’t even get a refund for the month that I was without the service.
The only reason I’m still with Security1 is because I can’t cancel the contract till the end of the 5-year term.

Skidbladnir 5:26 pm 15 Jun 08

For a valid recommendation, you’re going to need to be more specific.

An important question: When you get the alarm system in, and if it gets programmed by a company to be back-to-base, will you be told your installer code so that if it ever needs to be reprogrammed to another company, you don’t need to go through the process of dealing with the old company? [1]

Do you want a residential or commercial premises installed\monitored?

Do you want a hardwired system (as in physically installed into the walls, doors, and windows), or a more flexible wireless system?

Do you want back to base monitoring, or do you just want an alarm system (is it for insurance, or just peace of mind)?

How big is the company you’re thinking of using (for installation and monitoring), both in terms of customers, clients, and staff levels?
Do they sub contract out their installs, or are they direct employees of the company?

Are you prepared to go over your $1/day pricetag, or are you prepared to go long-term on a contract to achieve this??

Do you want your alarm to be in constant communication with base (as in 15second, 1minute, once a day, or weekly polling), and do you want it to send notification or every alarm arm & disarm?

Do you want to be called if not set armed by a certain time, called if opened out of hours (but disarmed by code), and call if the alarm does not report in within a specified time?

Do you (or your insurer) want a log of this activity to be emailed or faxed to you, or do you want this to be available for checking by telephone in case of an incident?

Will it be lived in by you, tennanted out, leased to an embassy (so have a constantly changing list of contacts), or vacant for long periods?
In these cases, who will be responsible for updating the list of contacts?

Who will be paying for the installation in these cases, and who will pay for the monitoring?
If you expect tennants to pay for the monitoring, will -you- be the one paying for the phone line to make sure the alarm system is always in communication?
(Its all well and good to -have- an alarm, but if it doesn’t communicate that you’re being broken into it isn’t worth a cent)

If you get an alarm activation, will you be responding personally, do you expect neighbours to do so, or do you want on-site responses arranged by the monitoring company [2](and do you want them included in your monthly fee)?

Do you want your alarm to be monitored by someone in Canberra, and also responded to by the same company?[2]

Many alarm installation companies will tell you one thing at time of sale, and expect you to actually read through the contract to find out if what you’re being offered is actually what you’ve asked for.
If you have an agreement with the salesperson, make sure its noted both on the contract and is seperately given in writing.
Some providers have this nasty habit of using their “These conditions are subject to change at any time without notice” when it comes to dealing with upset or problematic customers in small claims tribunals.

[1]:Many installation companies will always pull this trick, as do a number of individual installers.
[2]: There are a lot of monitoring companies in town, but not everyone will do the responses. You’ll find a lot of places actually subcontract those out.

In the interests of disclosure, I worked in a several local industry roles for a few years, so have my own reservations about a great many in-town and national providers, and the local industry is stitched very tightly.

Despite the claims on their webpage, SecurityOne never showed any interest in 9001 accreditation, just thought that the claim looked nice in promotional material (hence “run in accordance with” it, rather than “accredited to”), and most of the images on their website are either industry photo stock, and they don’t actually have offices in any other capital cities (nor have Master Licences for those states).

For the record, SecurityOne, Canberra Locksmiths, Newham’s Hardware and Doors, Phillip Executive Suites, City Executive Suites, and the Key King\Our Dry Cleaners kiosks you see around town are all run by the same family.

They are seperate to the Newham family which runs Custom Security Services (CSS) , but blood-related (and often get customers angry with one of them switch to the other).

cranky 6:49 pm 14 Jun 08

I second the post above. The management are associated with a number of businesses, all of them poison. I enjoyed watching as they were thrown off a major building site, with dire consequences threatened if they ever returned.

Cannot recommend Argus Security – they seem to shop around and change the monitoring company to suit themselves. Probably have a bit of bargaining power with a fleet of customers, so shop for the cheapest monitoring. Not sure it’s reflected in the price you are charged though. And their install (and installer) was a bit, well, strange.

I use Chubb – not around $1 a day, more like $1.60 or so. Their service has always been reliable, and they call if alarms are not set when expected.

farout 6:14 pm 14 Jun 08

Stay away from Security1 (the mob based in Philip). I signed up with them knowing that I would be moving in 3 years and seeking a short-term contract. The salesman (bloke named Glen) said that it wouldn’t be a problem and they would move my system for free if I move within the ACT. He also gave me a written quote for a 36-month contract, brought the paperwork around and I signed up. Only later did I realise that the fine print on the contract (3 A4 pages in 5-point font) mentions that the standard term of the contract is 5 years. When I actually moved, they refused to honour the commitment made by their salesman, and deemed that the quote is irrelevant and I would be held to the 5-year clause. The only way to terminate the contract is to pay out the entire 5 years. Geez, even Telstra pro-rates a reasonable cancellation fee if the contract is terminated early!

The other thing I noticed when reading the fine print is that on expiry of the 5 years, the contract is automatically renewed for a further 5 years unless cancelled in writing. If you don’t cancel in time, you will be slugged with another 5 years worth of fees!

LlamaFrog 1:13 pm 14 Jun 08

I am sure if you tell us what your address is we could be more helpful.

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