A few weeks ago, a customer on Facebook presented us with this question:
“My area has had several burglaries, and police report the thieves are using GSM/Cellular Jammers to prevent alarm systems from accessing a cellular signal while they burglarize the houses. Is my FrontPoint system susceptible to this type of device?”
Questions about cellular monitoring and its reliability in the presence of a cell jammer have popped up more often in recent years, as the home alarm industry continues to shift towards cellular monitoring. We’ve talked about cell jammers before, but this customer’s concern presented the perfect opportunity to provide further clarity.
A Cell Jammer’s Use
Cell jammers are devices used to prevent and block cellular signals, primarily in mobile phones. They’re often used to disrupt signals in locations where silence is expected or where using a phone would be impolite or rude.
Commercial use of cell jammers is illegal in the U.S., but this has not stopped people from using them; a quick Google search will unveil many sites selling the device.
The Effect on Cellular Alarm Systems
We know cell jammers can work on mobile phones, but can they also block the signal in your home security system with cellular monitoring?
The answer is yes, cell jammers can disrupt the signals of cellular radios because they use the same frequencies as mobile devices. Sensors will not be affected, as they operate on a separate military-grade frequency, but are limited in range.
This probably is not the answer you wanted to hear, but be reassured, you can still trust your cellular alarm system.
There’s a reason both new and old home alarm companies are choosing cellular technology: cellular monitoring is still the safest – and most reliable – form of monitoring available. And here’s why.
Real Burglaries v. Hollywood
It comes down to the true nature of burglaries. They’re often portrayed in movies and television as pre-determined, meticulously planned and skillfully executed events. This is very inaccurate.
Burglaries are rarely pre-determined or carefully orchestrated. Instead, they’re random and opportunistic acts.
Wire Cutters are the Tool of Choice
Burglars are much more likely to be carrying wire cutters than a cell jammer.
This is because wired security systems make up the majority of the home alarm market, and they’re still being sold by the majority of alarm companies – despite their obvious flaws. As a burglar, the likelihood of running into a wired system is much greater than a cellular system.
There’s also the issue of obtaining a cell jammer. As we mentioned, cell jammers are illegal for commercial use in the U.S.
Although burglars have a disregard for the law, taking a step further by obtaining a cell jammer is likely not worth the risk. Whereas, wire cutters are legal and easy to purchase.
The Burglar Mindset
A burglar’s motives is another reason why a cell jammer is not a realistic option.
As we mentioned, burglaries are often random, opportunistic acts. Burglars are not George Clooney or the rest of the Ocean’s Eleven looking to pull off an elaborate heist.
Burglars are looking for low-effort, low-risk opportunities. And since most homes equipped with a security system are wired, cell jammers are not worth it for burglars. They’ll be carrying wire cutters instead.
Another factor to consider is the cost: wire cutters are extremely cheap and cell jammers are much more expensive. Since there’s no guarantee that a home will be protected by a cellular security system, why would a burglar opt for a more expensive tool that may be unnecessary?
Cell Jammers are Not Effective
Worst case scenario, a burglar chooses to use a cell jammer instead of wire cutters. There is no guarantee it will work.
The cellular radios found in alarm systems vary from system to system. Some belong to different carriers, while others feature newer technology. And technology is constantly changing.
The mobile industry is in the forefront of innovation, and security companies are quick to adopt technologies that are introduced.
The most affordable cell jammers have a limited range. If a customer places their panel in a recommended location, away from doors and windows, a burglar will have a hard time knowing if they’re in range.
Cellular Home Security is Safe
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why a burglar simply wouldn’t put forth the effort to lug a cell jammer around the neighborhood. The combination of unreliability, high price and high risk make it extremely difficult to justify, especially when wire cutters are (unfortunately) a proven tool.
We understand that our customers, and discerning home security shoppers, are concerned with cell jammers. And we hear you! We do everything we can to give you with peace of mind, not only by providing the best and safest home security, but also by providing you information and knowledge you need. Please tell us, what other questions do you have about home security?