Industry Pulse In Depth: Alarm Companies and Consultants Shine as Reality TV Stars

SCARSDALE, N.Y. — The last place one might look to find a bona-fide television star is through the doors of an alarm company in Scarsdale, N.Y., or the desk of a security consultant in Morristown, N.J. But that is just where you will find some of the stars of the television shows “It Takes a Thief” and “Impossible Heists.”

The installers of Scarsdale Security play a prominent role mopping up the work of ex-thieves on the Discovery Channel’s “Thief,” while security consultant Michael Glasser adds his expertise to helping plan complex heists on Court TV’s “Heists.”

Scarsdale Security President David Raizen says while the show has resulted in more phone calls — including inquiries from other security companies — it’s business as usual. “Life goes on. We see the yard sign in the TV show. We see it as something fun to do and helpful to the industry and ourselves,” Raizen says. “We’re not completely altruistic, but you know it’s something we thought would be a good deal and it’s turning out to be something that’s successful and worthwhile participating in.”

“It Takes a Thief,” which airs Wednesday nights at 8 p.m., is hosted by reformed ex-thieves Matt Johnston and Jon Douglas Rainey, who expose a family’s security flaws at their home by performing a home burglary. After the results are reviewed, the home gets a free home security makeover from a group of experts, including Scarsdale Security.

Scarsdale’s managers say they’ve been pleased by how they and the industry have been represented .

“Our eyebrows went up once we found out how committed they were to doing a positive show,” says Drew Chernoy, marketing manager of Scarsdale, a First Alert dealer that extensively uses Honeywell Security products in the installations it performs on the show. “They have full editorial control. They could have taken any road they wanted and yet they took the right road.”

“Impossible Heists,” which aired for four consecutive Tuesday nights starting in mid-March on Court TV, won’t win any awards for a realistic view of security systems. With a premise described as “Ocean’s 11” meets “Survivor,” the show opts for the smoke and lasers that make great entertainment, but not-so-great security.

“An alarm guy who watches this is going to look and laugh because they know it’s not 100-percent real, but I’m hoping they respect that some of the stuff is at least based off of reality,” says Glasser, who adds, unlike “Thief,” his show is about trying to break in, not trymaking security better. “At the end of the day, I don’t really think they would want me going in and specifically showing how to crack an Ademco panel.”

In “Heists,” Glasser is part of one of two teams trying to duplicate a famous and physically challenging heist in a few hours. Some of the challenges include propelling down buildings and trying to climb over man-eating lions. It wasn’t exactly what Glasser thought he had signed up for, but he still took in the fun of becoming a reality TV star.

“I was more expecting to be sitting around with my lock picks and shorting out wires in an alarm system than jumping off of buildings,” Glasser says, noting that he certainly doesn’t have that “ready-for-prime-time” look. “I’m not especially in the greatest shape either and it will be quite amusing watching my fat rear-end flying off the edge of a building.”


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