Will I See You Again?
Successful home security depends on the technology and a lasting relationship.
Sadi Adri of Global Security Sytems says the most important aspect of home security comes after the equipment is installed.
Photo by Stephen Texeira
Twice in 2016, burglars broke into the Rockridge home of Caroline Hastings and her family, leaving shattered glass strewn over their floors while making off with cash, jewelry, electronics, passports, Social Security cards, marriage certificates, and military papers.
The Hastings had put alarms in the main entries and exits of their house but not their side patio sliding-glass doors, and their motion sensors were disabled because of their cats. Luckily, no one was hurt. But the break-ins, within two months of each other, were terrifying.
“I didn’t have everything I needed,” Hastings said about the “bare bones stuff” the family had bought from its longtime security company. “I didn’t know what to ask for. I wish they had told me.”
Through a referral, Hastings called Global Security Systems in Moraga, which is owned by Lior Rubin and managed by Sadi Adri. They call themselves “security-conscious” Israelis.
When Adri visited Hastings’ home, he walked the perimeter of the property before devising the best plan: internal alarms on the front and back doors and both sliding-glass doors with added protective steel screen doors; glass-breaker sensors that sound when glass shatters; a special security polymer film that makes glass tough to break; alarms on all the big windows and the second-floor windows with roof access; external alarms; and internal cameras focused on entry points. The couple decided on motion sensors, too; they are turned off in a room where the cats stay during the day. The Hastings also got a new safe. Price tag? $20,000.
Not everyone can afford or needs what the Hastings needed. Basic startup plans (alarms on entry and exit doors and important windows, plus an internal motion sensor and a smoke detector connected to the system) could cost about $900, plus a monthly fee of about $50, though the price varies and can be as low as $35 a month.
It’s not just the equipment that’s important, Adri said, because most companies sell similar technology. For his company, it’s about the quality of the installation and service customers receive after the system goes in.
The most important question customers should ask their alarm company: Will I see you again?
Also, Adri said some companies contract service with third-party untrained technicians who might not come for weeks. Customers should ask who is responsible for service calls. Alarm technicians at Global Security, Adri said, work for the company, do not earn commission, and should be at the home in question within 48 hours of a reported problem.
“We are not in the business of selling equipment to people,” Adri said. “We are in the business of protecting you. It’s not that we are there to just install the equipment and leave. No, that’s just the beginning of our relationship.”
Chris DeGrego, owner of Visioneers Integrated Systems in Alameda, agreed wholeheartedly that customers should care more about the relationship with the security company than the equipment being sold. He does not refer service to a third party and suggested that customers be wary when companies boast of having specialized or proprietary security equipment.
“That means you’re locked into using that company over the life of the contract,” he said. “And you also want to make sure the equipment is compatible with other stuff.” He also cautioned customers to be skeptical of contracts with steep fees for breaking years-long contracts. He allows his customers to terminate contracts at no charge. “If they cancel,” DeGrego said, “I didn’t do my job well.”
DeGrego strongly believes that people should have a basic home security system, complete with “life safety” features, such as smoke and carbon dioxide detectors, and the money spent on home protection is worth preventing a burglary. On average, insurance companies charge a $1,000 deductible to replace stolen items—about the same price as a basic alarm setup, DeGrego said.
“And it just breaks my heart to put an alarm in someone’s home after they’ve been burglarized,” he said, “and they still have to pay the deductible to replace their stuff. Getting an alarm is just a one-time cost.”