Dear PoP – What the Best Alarm Company? And an Alert About Home Invasion on Mon.

Through the Wire
Photo by PoPville flickr user JosephLeonardo

“Dear PoP,

We recently moved in to a place with a working but unmonitored alarm system. I’ve called the big national monitoring services — ADT, Brinks/Broadview, et al — for quotes but I’m also curious about the signs I see around the neighborhood in front yards and alleys from lesser known companies. Are they local? Perhaps local agents of the big national firms? Can your readers recommend any of them? I could cold call but I trust your readership more.”

I use ADT and have been very happy with them. A buddy of mine has used them in Brookland and twice the alarm thwarted attempted break ins. Who do you guys recommend?

While we’re on the topic, allow me to share a disturbing email sent by a reader:

“Just wanted to let you know about a friends house that was robbed at gunpoint on Monday with them in it! Needless to say they are pretty shaken up about it, but I also thought you might be interested in posting something so other people can be on the lookout in that area for any suspicious activity.”

They included a link from Borderstan that says on Mon. Jan. 25th, in the 1200 block of W Street NW:

“According to police, three residents of the block were robbed inside their home at gun point by three intruders. One of the residents was taking garbage outside when he or she was approached by one of the assailants who asked, “Is this where the party is?”

32 Comment

  • I use Petitbon Alarm Company, which is a local company. Their system was installed when we bought our house, and we’ve been very happy with their service since we had it checked out & re-activated. Their staff has always been friendly and helpful, even when we had to call back several times because the verizon setup was interfering with the alarm (we got it fixed).

  • It’s called a shotgun.

    • I have one of those. Not the easiest to carry when taking out the trash, though.

    • A shot gun is the best firearm for home defense, but only if you know what you are doing and are using the appropriate shells.

      But remember if you live in DC you are allowed to own a shotgun and have it in your house, but you are never ever for any reason to ever have it loaded or remove the trigger lock. This stoopidity is a good reason to join a sane Gun Right’s ORG (not the NRA, maybe something like the and pressure them to help on the DC laws.

      • Oh and that never loading or unlocking applies even when 5 guys with hatchets and pistols that have broken into your home and are attacking you and your family.

  • I just had a system installed by Urban Alarm, which is a local company. They were very helpful and professional. The alarm is monitored via radio signal, so no home phone is needed and it doesn’t rely on cellular or internet.

    • Do you mind if I ask how much you pay per month for monitoring? I also don’t have a landline and refuse to get one just for this purpose. Also how’s the reception? I’ve heard radio alarms can be hit or miss, depending on weather, terrain, etc.


  • The story sounds fake…LOL…Is this where the party is…Sounds like a bad movie line…..

  • ah

    I have ADT. Everybody complains about them, and they do seem pricey, but I’ve been relatively happy. Of course I’d like to pay less.

    1) They’re responsive. Whenever there’s a problem I get a call, even if it’s a low battery in a sensor. They also call the cops, who show up very quickly.

    2) But they are annoying on service, charging the service visit fee for pretty much anything. Seems to me if I’m paying $30-$40/month you maybe should throw in an occasional visit gratis to check on the configuration and so forth.

  • This is the post regarding the home invasion from the U Street listserv:

    On the 1200 block of W Street, NW – around 9:20 PM 3 roommates were robbed inside their home at gun point by three intruders.

    The suspects were two African American males and one African American female, all brandishing weapons. The entered the property while one tenant was taking out the garbage and asked “is this where the party is?” and then drew weapons, holding all three roommates at gun point, face down on the floor.

    The three assailants took electronic equipment including computers and video games while also taking the all three of the occupants’ cell phones and house keys while ripping their land line phone out of the wall.

    This is merely a reminder to our neighbors to be extremely vigilant. All three were relatively unharmed (they were each kicked around a bit), but this is unfortunately another harsh reality that we all should be on guard in these trying times.

    The police are actively looking for suspects and would appreciate any input or insight residents might have.

  • If you just need the alarm monitoring service, check out Runs about $9/month. You can reprogram your existing alarm to call them.

  • I bought the GE alarm system on line and installed it myself (somewhat technically demanding, but their technical support is very competent).

    I use watchlight and pay $150 per year and they call me whenever something doesn’t go right (i.e. I access the settings).

    If you already have the alarm system installed, almost every reputable company is the same. You pay for the ADT brand.

    • I did the same thing and use the same monitoring company (Alarm relay aka Watchlight). The system cost me about $300, and I installed it myself. I was nervous about it, but Watchlight walked me through testing all the sensors on the phone with them.

      The only problem I had was when I decided to add an additional code to the panel. I inadvertently programmed it as a duress code. MPD showed up about 10 minutes after I disarmed the system. Watchlight asked me to call them the next time I decide to modify something, and they’ll walk me through it.

      I’m really pleased to not be paying ADT $40/month any more.

      My captcha is “ant manumit”. I think Free the Ants just may be my new favorite cause. I’m going to overthrow the ant queen.

  • I can’t say enough good things about ASC. Locally owned & very responsive. I have used their services at three locations for over a decade. 202-829-7327

  • We use Guardian and they’ve been fantastic and extremely responsive. Once one of our door alarms sent out a notice that it wasn’t properly shut while we were out of town. They called everyone on our list when they couldn’t reach us.

  • My friend installed hidden digital cameras activated upon movement and caught great images of 4 guys who robbed his house. Ended up bringing down quite a organized crime ring, one of the guys was easily recognizable by police because he had just got out of jail. He also got a good shot of the getaway car.

    It’s stories like this one that make me fear the young punk thugs in this city. Ugh, Iowa it ain’t.

  • I have dogs that bark at anyone coming up the sidewalk–incuding me!

  • Ey yo where the party at? Girls are on the way, where the Bacardi at?

  • I second the dog alarm. (Also, I have nothing worth stealing.) My dog also does double-duty as a smoke alarm – woke me once before the smoke alarm went off, with a bad dumpster fire outside.

    • You folks and dogs are so funny. Very few normal dogs, even breads that are tough and bread to be aggressive, are threats to determined baddies. And if they are trained to be real threats to baddies, then they are a threat to non-baddies too.

  • Urban Alarm is awesome. Very responsive to my calls and questions. Locally owned. About $40 dollar/mo for a wireless alarm AND you can download a iPhone or Blackberry app that allows you to disarm/arm the alarm from your phone. This came in handy when I went out of town recently and couldn’t recall if I’d set the alarm. The app also provides a history of arming/disarming/stay modes, so you can tell what time your little brother got in the night before, whether the dog walker actually came, etc. You can also program it with different codes, one for the dog walker, one for the inlaws, etc.

  • I installed ADT last year. You can negotiate the contract with them; instead of a 3 year service agreement I got a waiver for 2 years. The monthly service fee isn’t negotiable. I pay $40/month for monitoring which includes my smoke alarms and service warranty. When I needed techs to fix a motion detector or add door alarms I wasn’t charged a service fee.

    ADT runs ads for $99 for a system- not true. It would be bare minimum and if you don’t spend atleast $300 then you don’t own the system, ADT does. It’s like $100 to add each door or window or motion detector.

    I’ve been happy with ADT service. I had trouble with my dogs setting off my motion detectors. To remedy they turned them upside down and mounted them lower on the wall. It solved the problem.

  • I use Paul Michael (301) 919-7322 and Secure 24 monitoring. They are local and very good. The monitoring is $25 a month if you have a phone line, 35 I think for cell connection. His installation was top notch, very clean and his quote was very competitive. You also call him directly with any issues so no chance of getting ADT’s latest hire with no experience.

  • I recently went through a similar situation after purchasing a home that had a pre-existing alarm system. I called ADT to get everything back up and running, but it turned into a nightmare. ADT national has very little control over the local installers, and the local installer for DC was terrible. When the sales tech came out to look at the existing system, he determined that most parts needed replaced “to be compatible.” When the installer tech came, he told me that the original equipment would have worked fine, but he couldn’t change the sales order. Since I had already taken the day off from work, I just said ok to the install. The next week I noticed that I was able to open many of my ground floor windows while the alarm was on ‘stay’ mode, and the alarm wouldn’t go off. A tech visited my house again (which I was billed for) and determined that there were no sensors on the windows even though there were ‘zones’ for the windows. I called the sales tech dozens of times but never heard back. I called ADT national to cancel (there is a 6-month money back guarantee), but they told me I’d have to go through the local installer. Since I still couldn’t get in touch with the local office, I tried ATD national again. After the national office was unable to get in touch with the local installer, they agreed to cancel my service. A month later, I got an $800 early termination change on my credit card. Although I eventually was able to recover most of my costs, the experience was a disaster and took months (not to mention hours on the phone).

    To make a long story short, I can’t emphasize how strongly I would recommend that you avoid ADT.

    I ultimately signed up with AlarmRelay ( and have been very happy. They are a UL certified monitoring service and it’s only $9/month (nearly a fourth of what the larger, well-known companies charge). The one catch is that you have to do all of your own equipment installation and maintenance, but since you already have a working system, that shouldn’t be a problem (they can work with almost any system). When you call to sign up, they’ll make an appointment to walk you though the system setup over the phone. It was simple and quick. They were even able to get me the sensors I needed for my windows. As an aside, I learned from them that nearly all alarm systems are just re-branded generic components made by a few companies. If a company tells you that your equipment needs replaced, especially if it’s fairly new, they are ripping you off.

    • ADT didn’t rip you off, your local dealer ripped you off. You likely didn’t do any research before responding to the “too good to be true” flyer for ADT you received in your door slot.

      Local dealers are licensed to sell and install ADT equipment. ADT “national” provides the monitoring service and does not warranty the local dealers. Local dealers set their own prices for equipment and installation. Your service contract clearly states your purchasing from an authorized adt dealer, not adt.

      ADT “national” warranty’s and services ADT “national” installed systems. When you purchase through the national name you pay a higher price for equipment and installation. But it’s done correctly.

      I did my research and decided it was worth the extra cost to have ADT install my system and not some joeblow local dealer selling systems out of his basement with the ADT name. I had problems with my initial system but ADT retified it within a day and ultimately gave me 6 months free service for their mistakes.

      I have no affiliation with ADT and I don’t endorse them. I do encourage consumers to do their research before investing in purchase with has strings attached for 3 yrs. do a little research people.

  • Just get a gun to protect your personal property. Just don’t take the gun to work like ARENAS.

  • I bought an ADT alarm system and had an absolutely horrible experience with the company. I paid extra to get a “wireless cellular back-up alarm system.” I was told that, if I moved, ADT would move the system to my new home for a small cost, but that the 3-year contract I signed and system would transfer. When I actually went to move, this turned out to not be the case. Thankfully, I was renting out my home so I just offered the system up as an incentive for a tenant. THEN, the system broke and I spent a 4-month odyssey trying to get the system repaired (the system is under warranty). The repair service was absolutely horrible. Technicians would show up at 10:00 PM, well after the 4-8pm window we were told to expect them. They would fail to bring the right equipment to make the repairs on numerous occasions. Then, ADT assured me they would not charge me the monitoring fee for the 4-5 months we didn’t have a system. Of course, they still charged me. So, I had to deal with their billing department who assured me they would refund my checking account for those 4-5 months (the refund amount was around $200). Then, instead of REFUNDING my checking account, they DEBITED my checking account for this amount!! I finally got fed up and filed a fraud complaint through my bank. I guess that got ADT moving and they quickly rectified the mistake.

    That all said, I would NEVER recommend ADT to ANYONE, not even my worst enemy. The company is crooked, their “contracts” are horrific, and their sales people are shady, shady, shady! Stay away from ADT

  • We have had ADT for 2 years now and would recommend them. We pay $24 a month as USAA members – definitely ask ADT about the various discounts they have, e.g., AAA, ABA, etc. The monitoring has always been very good and reliable.

  • FrontPoint is an awesome alarm system and company. Based in McLean they have great customer service, and I have been really happy with their service. $35/mo for their all frills package which includes online and mobile app access to your wireless security system. I didn’t want to get a land line, so I thought this was the best package.

  • Urban Alarm ( does not have any long term contrats which is great. The pricing is competitive and the service very responsive. Most of the time we deal with the company owner.

  • I put in an INGRID system. INGRIDHOME.COM

    Pretty cool in that it uses your broadband connection for monitoring, with phone line backup. Completely controllable over the web. I have a sensor on the door to the pet food, and when I am out of town I can remotely check to see if my pets are being cared for. Sends emails for problems like a broadband outage, or a severe weather alert. The remote control in the bedroom is also a phone! I think you can also get cameras. It’s a self installed wireless system so you can take it with you if you leave your place. I don’t know if they offer professional installation, but it was a piece of cake to install myself. Sorry to sound like a commercial, but I love this thing.

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