A comprehensive study of five years of police data by researchers at the Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice (SCJ) in Newark, N.J., found residential burglar alarm systems decrease crime. While other studies have concluded that most burglars avoid alarm systems, this is the first study to focus on alarm systems while scientifically ruling out other factors that can impact crime rates.

“Data showed that a steady decrease in burglaries in Newark between 2001 and 2005 coincided with an increase in the number of registered home burglar alarms,” said Seungmug Lee, author of the study.

The study found an installed burglar alarm makes a dwelling less attractive to would-be and active intruders and protects the home without displacing burglaries to nearby homes, actually decreasing crime rather than simply displacing it. The study also concluded that the deterrent effect of alarms is felt in the community at large.

“This type of study assists police departments to effectively deploy their limited resources,” said Garry McCarthy, Newark police director. “The school of criminal justice provides valuable insight into the positive impact alarm systems can have in preventing residential burglaries.”

The study noted that technology innovations have increased the availability of home security systems to middle-class homeowners, and technology has made the systems more dependable.

“Computers, printed circuits, digital communicators and microprocessors have refined monitoring and signaling technology, and modern electronic sensors now include ultrasonic, infrared and microwave devices, which were formerly available only in more sophisticated commercial and industrial applications,” Lee said.

The study was conducted over a two-year period with the cooperation of the Newark Police Department.