After listening to a client’s experience involving hercondominium management and home monitoring system company, I became acutely aware of a false sense of security that we may develop by simply paying to have our homes and personal belongings protected. For those living in condominiums, it is an accepted and necessary practice for condominium management to hire independent contractors that do on-site repairs and maintenance. It is also expected that, prior to hiring contractors, the management will perform the necessary due diligence required to hire reputable companies as well as advise unit owners of any entry to their home for maintenance/repair purposes. A contractor was hired, by my client’s condominium, to complete work in her unit. The contractor gained entry to her unit through her balcony doors while she was out for the afternoon. This method of access
set off her motion sensor triggering an alarm at her monitoring company. As the contractor did not know her code to deactivate the alarm, the monitoring company called the home in an attempt to reach my client. They also called several other names on her contact list but were unable to reach anyone. It was a full 26 minutes from the time the contractor set off the motion sensor until the condominium security guard arrived at my client’s home. An exterior patrol was performed and the premises was found secure and intact. As my client’s front door was found undisturbed, the monitoring company declared the incident a false alarm. Some wise words were offered from Police Constable Tawton, Duty Operations of the Toronto Police Force, “Realistically, all access points should be checked and ensure they haven’t been breached”. There are at least two lessons to be learned from this incident.
1.Choose your security company wisely by thoroughly researching and asking questions.
• Ask about response times to alarm detection and what specific services are offered by the company; i.e.who is called to respond to alarms?
• Asks friends for recommendations;
• Compare coverage being offered;
• Ask about warranties that come with the package;
• Question prospective monitoring companies on how they determine if there is in fact a false alarm.
Note: The Toronto Police Service Alarm Response Policy outlines general rules for the public on thistopic and describes the circumstances in which the Police will respond to a request from a registered central monitoring system. The Police Department has established a cost recovery program which allows the implementation of a charge of $130.00 for any call responded that has been determined to be a false alarm.
Editor: Joy Lewis