How Effective Are Motion-Activated Security Systems?

Safety Team
Updated Jan 28, 2021
4 min read

Motion-activated security systems can prevent some burglaries, and they can stop some crimes in progress. But you'll need to set them up properly and maintain them.When used properly, motion-activated security systems are remarkably effective. They tell intruders that you're aware of their movements, and that could be enough to stop a crime from happening. But the key is to use these systems properly.

What do motion activated systems do?

As the name implies, motion-activated systems spring to life in response to movement. They could detect someone in your yard, in your home or both. Every move a robber makes triggers some kind of alarm, and that offers a robust level of protection. Your system might include:

Motion-activated lights

These will turn on and off, depending on movement. If someone walks into your yard and comes within range of the sensor, a blinding light comes on. Burglars don't like to be seen, and that light could be enough to make some criminals run back into the darkness.

Motion-activated cameras

These work in a similar manner. When a moving object is in range, the device turns on and begins recording information. Often, a light shines during the recording, alerting a burglar that you're watching. The glow of that bulb could stop a crime before it begins.

Internal sensors

These will detect movement in your house. Some robbers won't be swayed by your scare tactics. They may blow past shining lights and recording cameras and move right into your home. If they do, they may trigger another set of alarms.

Why do motion-activated security systems work?

Security systems help you communicate with robbers, whether you're home or not. The bells and lights that movement triggers tell burglars that you have installed protection for your home. These systems also communicate with authorities, and they can step in and stop a crime in progress. Robbers thrive in secret. Motion-activated systems pierce that privacy. When a potential robber knows that an alarm will go off, your home may be a less attractive target. The crime could be prevented due to of the presence of protection. Some systems are loud, and a criminal might run as soon as the noise begins. Motion detectors sound when:

  • Glass moves through the air.
  • A tool pushes through the glass shards.
  • A hand or a head moves into the gap left by the glass.

Around-the-clock protection

Burglars look for opportunities to steal your things when you're not home. A motion-activated system offers protection during both daytime and nighttime crimes. For burglars, daytime is the right time for crime. People are at work or school, and neighborhoods are empty and unprotected. A burglar could sneak in and out without anyone noticing suspicious activity.

Monitored, motion-activated systems can help. They sound an audible alarm during an event that neighbors, couriers and other people might hear. They also tell police and first responders to come to your home to investigate. When there is no one home during the day, an alarm can be critical protection. At night, motion-activated lights tell your sleepy neighbors that someone is on your property. If you're home, you have the chance to investigate. If you're not, your neighbors could help alert authorities. It’s hard to overestimate the value of preventing a burglary before it starts. Motion lights could help you to do just that.

Tips for motion-activated security systems

While motion-activated systems can help to prevent crimes, they can also cause headaches if they're misused. And unfortunately, it's really easy to use a motion system improperly. The average home robbery takes 8 to 12 minutes from start to finish. The sooner your alarm sounds, the quicker someone can step in to stop the problem. To make sure your motion detector alerts you as soon as possible, make sure to keep these factors in mind.

  • Don't blocking sightlines. Sensors need to detect movement across the room. If your sensor is hemmed in by furniture or possessions, it can't work.
  • Always check your batteries. Some systems use battery power, and if you don't check the supply, your alerts won't sound at all.
  • Opt for professional monitoring. If you don't work with professionals, you must respond to all alerts. If you're not glued to your phone, you could miss a critical prevention moment.
  • Make sure to get a full set of equipment. Burglars don't always come through the front door. If detection doesn't extend to all rooms, including the basement, you could be excluding points of entry.

Anything that causes motion could set off your alarm. Before you arm your system, you must ensure that all triggers are confined. You'll also need to remember to set the alarm. It isn't unusual for homeowners to leave home without turning on their protection. That gives burglars a perfect opportunity to step in and walk away with your possessions. Whenever you leave home, your system should be armed.

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