Ever since I was a wee lad (hard to imagine, I know) I have had a fascination with statistics, facts and figures. Like most boys, it all began with sports. In my case, it was when my dad showed me how to keep score at my first baseball game, circa 1970, as the Los Angeles Dodgers hosted the Pittsburgh Pirates. Not only was I a first-rate junior statistician but — much to my father’s chagrin (and my own since the early 1990s!) — I became a lifelong fan of the visiting team. I also later became a sports editor, before discovering the security industry.
To this day, I remain a box-score junkie (anyone else out there grow up on Strat-O-Matic?). You see with numbers, providing you have a firm grasp of the context, you can uncover the stories within the story (e.g. a batter homers twice but strikes out in the ninth with the tying run at third base). In addition to being fun and informative, on a personal, business or industry level, numerical data can be invaluable. That is why, under my watch, SSI has become one of the industry’s leading providers of authoritative research, statistics and analysis.
So it was with great anticipation that I sat in on the Alarm Industry Research Educational Foundation’s (AIREF) meeting during the recent Electronic Security Expo (ESX) in Nashville, Tenn. (see coverage on page 12). There, AIREF — created by the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) in 1977 “to engage in initiatives critical to public safety, the consumer, and the alarm professional” — revealed the preliminary results of “The Impact of Home Burglar Systems on Residential Burglaries,” a new study conducted by Rutgers University.
The study examined the impact of home burglar alarm systems on residential burglaries in Newark, N.J., during 2001-2005. Although promoted as and widely believed to be a burglary deterrent, precious little data exists to support that premise. I am here to tell you this study not only rectifies that discrepancy but has the potential to make even the staunchest alarm industry critics reconsider their position.
“The findings of this study are substantial and confirming. It is not only methodologically advanced from prior studies but also employed various numerical and spatial analytical tools,” Seungmug Lee, Ph.D, Rutgers School of Criminal Justice, told me. “The public assumes a burglar alarm may keep would-be burglars away from their houses. This study examined and supported this time-honored assumption.”
The study found an indisputable correlation between an increase in registered (permitted) residential burglar alarm systems and a decrease during the five-year period of more than 40 percent in residential burglaries. Still, detractors claim, alarm systems merely deflect burglars to unprotected premises. However, the Rutgers research shows such systems not only protect homes without displacing burglars to nearby houses but, in fact, also provide houses in close proximity protection from burglars. How cool is that?!
“A preliminary review of the study indicates we now have supporting data about the effectiveness of a residential alarm system when talking to consumers,” says John Jennings, chairman of AIREF, CEO of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Safeguard Security and Communications, and a member of SSI’s Editorial Advisory Board. “It also gives us the data to support the idea that law enforcement resources are conserved by the use of residential alarm systems. These are substantial findings for the alarm industry. Whatever we can do to reduce the workload of our law enforcement partners by deterring crime not only helps them but creates a more secure and stable society as a whole.”
I urge you to share the findings of this research with your local law enforcement, municipalities, media outlets, etc. to help validate the importance of alarm systems in the community. As a bonus, this study also unearthed demographic information savvy salespeople will want to exploit to their advantage. The industry is indebted to the volunteers who comprise AIREF’s Board of Directors and those who financially and otherwise support the nonprofit organization. For more information about AIREF and its research projects, visit www.airef.org.