ADT Pulse Costs More – But Still Misses on “Crash and Smash” Protection

Posted by , , at 11:42 am

ADT’s Pulse platform represents a significant effort to catch up by adding advanced features to ADT’s home alarm services. Yes, ADT is late to the game with alarm technology that does more, and yes, they charge a pretty penny above what other next-gen alarm companies ask for both equipment and monthly services. But the biggest miss of the Pulse offering is that fact that it lacks a critical element of protection – a feature that ADT has actually never had – and that’s Crash and Smash protection. For a quick primer, read this prior post on Crash and Smash that lays out the details. As far as I can tell, it’s just as easy for a burglar to defeat a new ADT system with Pulse as it ever was. I am reminded of a lengthy complaint I recently read, where one of their customers experienced a break in, and the alarm system was defeated.

ADT installed a security system in my apartment in Chicago. During the instillation, the ADT tech installed the “Safewatch Quickconnect” control panel next to my back door. The proximity to the door concerned me, so I asked if the police would be alerted if someone pulled the panel off the wall – the tech assured me they would be.

Over 20-plus years in the alarm industry I have heard this question repeatedly. And while the technology exists to provide this level of protection even when an intruder disables the control panel, ADT has never offered it – even with Pulse.

What Really Happened

On Friday February 13, 2009 I came home from work and found that someone had broken into my apartment. It was trashed, and the thieves stole several valuable items. The intruders ripped my Safewatch Quickconnect ADT alarm from the wall and smashed it into little pieces on the floor. Contrary to ADT’s assertion, the police were not notified when the control box was ripped from the wall.

There is only one alarm technology that provides “Crash and Smash” protection: this highest level of security was patented years ago by Alarm.com, the technology company that wrote the book on safer and smarter protection, combining cellular monitoring with advanced interactive features. In fact, if imitation really is the most sincere form of flattery, then Alarm.com should look at the ADT Pulse platform and feel mighty proud.

The Painful Truth

I called ADT that night and was given the run-around with regards to my questions regarding why the police were not contacted when the thieves tampered with the box. I called back the next day because I was still confused as to why the alarm failed to work. Unbelievably, the representative told me that the ADT tech lied to me. She said that if the alarm goes off (which it would have in my apartment given that the thieves kicked the door in), but is ripped from the wall before the expiration of the allotted time for the owner to punch in the code, it is the same as if the owner disarmed the alarm. i. e, pulling the control box of the wall DOES NOT notify the police.

Insult to Injury

ADT said that the best it could do was to reinstall the same alarm. I wanted an alarm that would work if an intruder came in and ripped it off the wall, as I had been promised mine would. The representative told me that if I wanted that feature, I would need to upgrade to a more expensive system. I asked that given the circumstances (that ADT itself acknowledged that it lied to me) if I could get the upgrade, but pay the same monthly amount. The representative said no, and that I would need to pay more money and then, almost apologetically, stated “I know the product doesn’t work if ripped off the wall and you know it doesn’t work, but our millions of customers don’t know that.”

This is really important: the truth is that even with the upgrade to more expensive equipment and monthly services, the ADT system still lacks the patented Alarm.com technology to communicate an alarm event if the control panel is disabled before it can contact the monitoring center. And this still appears to be the case, even with ADT’s Pulse.

Why Alarm.com is Better

With Alarm.com’s interactive services, every event is communicated, including the intruder opening the door. When your system is in the “Armed” mode and a door opens, that door opening is immediately transmitted. If there is no follow-up signal from the control panel (system disarm, or intrusion), the monitoring center is instructed to call the police, even though the control panel was destroyed before it could send an intrusion signal. Now that’s peace of mind – and the highest level of security you can get.

FrontPoint is proud to partner with Alarm.com. In fact, FrontPoint is the only alarm company in the US that has installed Alarm.com technology in every system we sell. We are also the only US alarm company to use safer cellular monitoring in 100% of our systems – from day one. No wonder FrontPoint is ranked the #1 US alarm company for wireless, interactive home security. FrontPoint and Alarm.com: an undefeatable combination.

Comments (17)

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  1. ADT customer

    Don’t know who to believe? Did ADT fix this issue? I’m looking to upgrade and checking out frontpoint. I just chatted with ADT about this issue… see below.

    Thank you for expressing interest in ADT Security Services. A security professional will be with you shortly.
    Hi, my name is ‘(ADT operator)’. How can I help you?
    (Me): I currently have ADT and Im thinking about upgrading. Doing research on upgrading my old ADT system, or go with another provider. Does my system currently have Crash and Smash protection?
    (ADT operator): Hi, Vincent.
    (Me): What happens if someone smashes my current control/key pad?
    (ADT operator): All systems have crash and smash protection
    (Me): If someone were to smash my current keypad with a hammer, the system would still work?
    (ADT operator): The system will alert ADT that there is a problem.
    (ADT operator): ADT will call you to verify.
    (Me): http://www.getlivewire.com/how-to-defeat-a-security-alarm-crash-and-smash-attack/
    (Me): So this article is incorrect?
    (ADT operator): Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
    (ADT operator): I am not sure what that article is.
    (ADT operator): Unable to view it.
    (Me): It talks about how ADT’s systems do not have crash and smash protection.
    (ADT operator): Probably a competitor published article. All systems have crash and smash protection.
    (Me): Great to know!
    (Me): Hard to tell what article to believe.

  2. Robert

    Have there been any issues with smash and crash? I am leery of smash and crash, because it is a silent alarm signal. If the owner trips the alarm, and then disarms the system all will be fine only if the cell network is working correctly. If the restore signal is delayed by the cellular carrier, or for any other reason, the silent smash and crash signal will be dispatched by the monitoring company. Silent alarms are very dangerous in these situations. Homeowners are not always available to answer a call from the monitoring company to providfe a verification passcode.

    For example: The home owner might arrive home from work, disarm the alarm system, and then proceed to the basement to pick up a gun for a hunting trip. The police office responding may find front door unlocked and walk in an confrontl the homeowner with the gun in his hand.

    This is just one example. The fact is, that smash and crash is like pulling a pin on a hand grenade and hoping that the pin is put back in the grenage before the handle is released and the grenade explodes.

    That said, has FrontPoint had any false alarms, or any other issues with Alarm.com’s smash and crash?

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Robert – great questions, and thanks. Smash & Crash is regarded as one of the most secure and reliable features available in home security today. Our customers have had a number of situations occur where an intruder attempted to disable the control panel and police were dispatched regardless, and Alarm.com (who patented this technology) has many more reports. There are, however, no reports that we are aware of where Crash & Smash did not function as intended.

      The scenario you describe is highly unlikely – so much so that after over 20 years in this industry, I am struggling to remember anything like that ever happening. But let’s start with the cellular communication first. Remember, with Alarm.com’s interactive services, everything that happens in the home is communicated via the cellular network as it happens, in real time. Delays in cellular communication such as you describe have not been an issue – we checked with Alarm.com ourselves to confirm this, and with over 2 billion signals processed, they have a pretty good idea of what works and what does not. But back to the interactive signalling: when the alarm was first armed, Alarm.com knew. When the door was opened and closed as you left the home, they knew. When the door opened on your return, they knew. And when you disarmed the system, they knew. Crash & Smash comes into play when you open a door and disarm the system, and but only if Alarm.com never hears from the panel again. What are the odds they they will get the door opening signal, but NOT get the alarm being disarmed signal? Essentially non-existent, although technically possible. But if for some reason the disarm signal is not received, then the central station will call TWO numbers to reach the homeowner before dispatching police. So the case you present is that the door open signal WAS received, the disarm signal WAS NOT received, and the central station could not reach the homeowner on TWO separate numbers. I’d have to say that scenario is almost mathematically impossible… Thanks again.

  3. Robert

    Have there been any issues with smash and crash? I am leery of smash and crash, because it is a silent alarm signal. If the owner trips the alarm, and then disarms the system all will be fine only if the cell network is working correctly. If the restore signal is delayed by the cellular carrier, or for any other reason, the silent smash and crash signal will be dispatched by the monitoring company. Silent alarms are very dangerous in these situations. Homeowners are not always available to answer a call from the monitoring company to providfe a verification passcode.

    For example: The home owner might arrive home from work, disarm the alarm system, and then proceed to the basement to pick up a gun for a hunting trip. The police office responding may find front door unlocked and walk in an confrontl the homeowner with the gun in his hand.

    This is just one example. The fact is, that smash and crash is like pulling a pin on a hand grenade and hoping that the pin is put back in the grenage before the handle is released and the grenade explodes.

    That said, has FrontPoint had any false alarms, or any other issues with Alarm.com’s smash and crash?

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Robert – great questions, and thanks. Smash & Crash is regarded as one of the most secure and reliable features available in home security today. Our customers have had a number of situations occur where an intruder attempted to disable the control panel and police were dispatched regardless, and Alarm.com (who patented this technology) has many more reports. There are, however, no reports that we are aware of where Crash & Smash did not function as intended.

      The scenario you describe is highly unlikely – so much so that after over 20 years in this industry, I am struggling to remember anything like that ever happening. But let’s start with the cellular communication first. Remember, with Alarm.com’s interactive services, everything that happens in the home is communicated via the cellular network as it happens, in real time. Delays in cellular communication such as you describe have not been an issue – we checked with Alarm.com ourselves to confirm this, and with over 2 billion signals processed, they have a pretty good idea of what works and what does not. But back to the interactive signalling: when the alarm was first armed, Alarm.com knew. When the door was opened and closed as you left the home, they knew. When the door opened on your return, they knew. And when you disarmed the system, they knew. Crash & Smash comes into play when you open a door and disarm the system, and but only if Alarm.com never hears from the panel again. What are the odds they they will get the door opening signal, but NOT get the alarm being disarmed signal? Essentially non-existent, although technically possible. But if for some reason the disarm signal is not received, then the central station will call TWO numbers to reach the homeowner before dispatching police. So the case you present is that the door open signal WAS received, the disarm signal WAS NOT received, and the central station could not reach the homeowner on TWO separate numbers. I’d have to say that scenario is almost mathematically impossible… Thanks again.

  4. Alan

    I love it: “I know the product doesn’t work if ripped off the wall and you know it doesn’t work, but our millions of customers don’t know that.” Choice.

    This *IS* indeed the dirty little secret of the alarm industry… only problem is, next gen companies like FP and the Internet are gradually busting this nut.

  5. Alan

    I love it: “I know the product doesn’t work if ripped off the wall and you know it doesn’t work, but our millions of customers don’t know that.” Choice.

    This *IS* indeed the dirty little secret of the alarm industry… only problem is, next gen companies like FP and the Internet are gradually busting this nut.