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SPECIAL REPORT / HOME SECURITY SYSTEMS

Picking the Right Security Company

July 12, 1998|DAN GORDON

Here are some tips on savvy shopping for a home security company, starting with some questions to ask:

* How are the company's officers screened, trained and supervised? Ask for details:

* How extensive are the background checks?

* Who's providing the instruction, how much is there and what does it cover?

* How is continued quality assured?

* Is there follow-up training?

Some more steps to take:

* Ask to meet with one or more of the officers who would be working your area. Ask how they will they respond to potentially volatile situations.

* Find out how many clients the company has in your area and whether that affects its patrol services. A neighborhood might have only one company providing patrol in addition to alarm response, while others offer only the response.

* Talk with friends and neighbors about their systems and the service they receive. Ask these questions:

* Does their alarm frequently malfunction?

* When there's a problem, how easy is it to get a service call?

* Is there a charge and, if so, how much?

* Has the company made the capital investment in the best technology?

* Check with the state Bureau of Security and Investigative Services in Sacramento ([800]952-5210) to make sure the company you're considering is licensed and in good standing.

* Check with your police department regarding the company's reputation, and whether it is aware of any untoward incidents involving the company or its officers.

* Find out how long the company has been in business. Officers who know a neighborhood and its residents have an advantage.

* Make sure company carries liability insurance.

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