Alarm System Worked, but ADT Failed to Dispatch Police until Too Late

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No alarm company is perfect, but there are some basic procedural guidelines that every alarm company should follow. I call these universal practices: the list of actions and reactions you should expect from any security service provider. The list is actually short, since there are plenty of potential variables when protecting lives and properties. In this case, one of our larger competitors experienced a lapse in policy that cost a lot for a large customer – by breaking one of the basic rules of alarm monitoring.

 

Police say a couple of quick-thinking crooks got away with thousands of dollars from a Lexington, KY home improvement store by tricking the company that operates the store’s security system. It happened on Christmas Eve at the Home Depot on Richmond Road in Lexington. Police say two burglars stole around $10,000 from the Home Depot.

How The Thieves Did It

Seen in store surveillance video, the suspects somehow get in through the front door, just before 2:00 that morning. That set off an alarm and the alarm company, ADT, called the store. That’s when one of the burglars actually answered the phone, and in a calm voice, told the operator the alarm was set off on accident and that he was with Home Depot security. The suspects made their way to the store vault, stole the cash and got away. Police say it appears the burglary was carefully planned out.

Where Did ADT Drop the Ball?

The first thing any monitoring center should do when calling to verify an alarm is make sure the person on the other end of the phone is a “good guy” – and this is done by using a password that is only known to specific (trusted) people. While the story does not explicitly state that the password rule was broken, I bet it was. Plus, it’s highly unlike that someone with a password would not have the disarm code to silence the alarm – which never happened. In fact, it was the continuing alarm that caused the monitoring center to eventually dispatch the police – too late.

The alarm sounded for several more minutes, so ADT called police. By the time officers arrived, the men and the money were long gone. Police were investigating how the men gained entry to the store and the safe, Roberts said. The men, captured on surveillance video, did not appear to be employees. Both men were wearing black coats and masks.

 

This is a human error, not a software glitch – and it could happen to any alarm company. This theft happened to be a high-profile event with a significant loss, but it does focus attention on a couple of facts. One is that having your own monitoring center (a major point in ADT’s advertising claims) does not guarantee that the service will be flawless. Our partner monitoring center (Rapid Response) has very strict rules for alarm verification, and in almost twenty years I have never heard of them making a similar error. If you forget your password, the operator should not even be coaching you to help you remember it!

The second point is that any company is only as good as the people and processes that are in place. As experts in wireless, interactive home security, FrontPoint has great people, and we do it right – taking service delivery to a new level, with the best on-line reviews (and the fewest complaints) you can find for any nationwide alarm company. We work hard to earn those reviews, and even harder to provide the level of excellence that results in our “best of class” reputation. We’re not perfect, but we are very, very good – and getting better all the time.

Comments (4)

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  1. Peter M. Rogers

    Thanks, Alan – as always. We’re happy to provide information on the alarm industry, how the technology works, what’s new, security tips, the recent headlines – pretty much anything that has to do with home security.

    As for this situation with ADT, I would not wish it on any alarm company – but consider it a valuable lesson for all of us.

  2. Peter M. Rogers

    Thanks, Alan – as always. We’re happy to provide information on the alarm industry, how the technology works, what’s new, security tips, the recent headlines – pretty much anything that has to do with home security.

    As for this situation with ADT, I would not wish it on any alarm company – but consider it a valuable lesson for all of us.

  3. Alan

    Very interesting post, Peter. And an expensive and humiliating learning lesson for ADT. Can’t be fun having this happen to (probably) one of their largest commercial clients. I feel somewhat bad for the employee/ees that made the mistake(s), as no doubt some heads are probably rolling over this gaffe.

    And very true your point, “… any company is only as good as the people and processes that are in place.” I’m glad you guys totally get that! It’s a critical point, and I wish every company fully realized its importance. You can have the fanciest, most expensive, whiz-bang technology, but it’ll be rendered almost useless without the proper processes and training. Before anything else comes processes/training/people.

    Anyway, thanks for the great posts, keep ’em coming!

  4. Alan

    Very interesting post, Peter. And an expensive and humiliating learning lesson for ADT. Can’t be fun having this happen to (probably) one of their largest commercial clients. I feel somewhat bad for the employee/ees that made the mistake(s), as no doubt some heads are probably rolling over this gaffe.

    And very true your point, “… any company is only as good as the people and processes that are in place.” I’m glad you guys totally get that! It’s a critical point, and I wish every company fully realized its importance. You can have the fanciest, most expensive, whiz-bang technology, but it’ll be rendered almost useless without the proper processes and training. Before anything else comes processes/training/people.

    Anyway, thanks for the great posts, keep ’em coming!

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