6 Active Security Measures That Arm Customers’ Businesses, Homes Against Intruders

Instead of an alarm system that merely detects and reports, these components can take physical action against an intruder in a non-lethal way.

In my earlier sales days, I would often tell a customer, as I was making a security sales survey, “We will place a trap here in this high traffic area.” This usually caught the prospect’s attention. Their reply was, “You are actually going to catch the burglar?” Then I would proceed to explain the concept of motion sensor trapping or detecting the burglar’s unauthorized presence.

I am also sure that if you have been selling security long enough, you have had customers ask about installing an aggressive “booby-trap” device. Then you would have to explain the legal consequences of such a device. Finally, often to the customer’s disappointment, they would find out the reality that alarms are primarily designed to detect and report. However, that does not need to be the only solution when confronting the invasion of burglars.

Security that only senses illegal activity and reports is often called “passive security.” Alarm systems that physically take action against the intruder in response to an alarm condition is referred to as “active security.”

RELATED: Don’t Get Duped by Offers of ‘Free’ Alarm System Installations

First, we will rule out the most aggressive active booby-trap systems such as land mines and shotguns for obvious reasons. That being said, let’s take a moment and look at six non-lethal active security alternatives.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Since active security system applications may deal with some sort of physical action against an intruder, it is strongly suggested that you check all such applications with both your company legal representative and jurisdictional authorities before applying such actions and services to your customers. One may also want to consider two-way audio communications in their alarm monitoring package.

1. Sound — Actually, the only true passive alarm system would be a silent alarm. For generations, those who installed audible alarm systems have been selling a form of active alarm system. After all, it is pretty difficult for a burglar to pick up and steal items with his hands over his ears. Having multiple siren locations adds to the deterrence efficiency of the alarm system. Just remember that technically sound pressure levels above 80 decibels are considered dangerous.

2. Lights — Having household lights strobe during an alarm is another good active security measure. The placement of high intensity strobes can be an extra deterrent.

3. Smoke — It is difficult to steal items or move around in an area you cannot see in. Systems like SmokeCloak, once activated from an alarm, will fill an area very quickly with a non-lethal smoke cloud. The area can then easily be evacuated of smoke when authorities arrive. I have heard of incidents where the burglar is found sitting on the floor in the middle of the room when police arrive as he is completely disoriented in trying to leave the store. I have also heard that police dogs are able to navigate better than humans in the foggy low visibility environment.

4. Forensic Staining — Smoke delivery systems such as SmokeCloak are now able to mark the intruder with an identifiable DNA staining. Larry McIntosh, director of sales & marketing, SmokeCloak North America, and a former police officer, said, “We’re hearing from more and more officers that like the technology because it most often stops the crime and with the addition of forensic DNA technology, they have a strong, new tool to help place the perpetrator at the scene of the crime.”

Another staining system used to identify burglars is the SmartWater spray system. These devices are placed at strategic locations in order to spray a special water mist to later identify the intruders. The special clear liquid has a unique PIN identification and is easily visible on the intruder under an ultraviolet lamp.

RELATED: Alarm Installers: Don’t Allow Yourselves to Inherit Another Company’s Problem Through Negligence

5. Tear Gas — A more aggressive active alarm application is the delivery of a CS type tear gas to the area when an alarm is activated. This makes continued presence in the area very irritating. Systems such as the Burglar Bomb security systems can deliver a food-grade pepper spray to an area very quickly.

6. Mantrap — A common application where access to an area is controlled by two doorways. The first door must be secured and the trap area cleared before the second access door can be opened. Mantrap system configurations are available from companies such as Security Door Controls (SDC). Also, make sure to look at the application of an emergency exit release button to complete with fire code egress requirements.

So now the next time you propose a “trap” for your customers you can take it many new levels of both passive and active security.

Tech Talk Treasure Chest
Here are some more “Diamonds in the Rough” from your Tech Talk On-Line Treasure Chest:

SmokeCloak Activation Video – You know how they say a “picture is worth a thousand words”? Well, a video might be worth a thousand pictures. Check this one out on the SmokeCloak system we just talked about in this month’s article.

Free “Practical Guide to Fire Alarm Manual” — Every once in a while I run across what I call a true DIR. This is a document to read and keep in your library. Thanks to the Electronic Security Association (ESA) for this freebie. Of course they would like you to look at the other valuable docs and services they have to offer. So take a moment and peak inside their website as well.

What is SmartWater? — This is a pretty cool concept if you are not yet offering it as an option to your customer. Take a look at a good definition of SmartWater.

Be More Productive with Keyboard Shortcuts — Any of you that have read Tech Talk for a while know that I am a big fine of productivity tools. I have found that no matter how small the tip, they can lead often to great improvements in productivity. I know that we all think we are experts on the keyboard, but you would be surprised at some of the handy tips in this article. Plus the website is pretty cool as well.

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About the Author


Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration "Tech Talk" columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.

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