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Choosing a Burglar Alarm

Unwanted intruders gaining access to your home is a terrifying prospect, but according to studies conducted on the subject, 84{0c80360b72ae2bbeb585933d6d5c24a9009bc51fdbafc47919a5b2c3985bd58a} of burglars avoid properties with an alarm system. If you’re thinking of choosing a burglar alarm, read our advice on the options available. In this article, we look at the most common burglar alarm systems – wired alarms, wireless alarms and monitored alarms. Don’t forget, an alarm will also normally reduce your home insurance premium.

What are the different types of burglar alarm system available?

Burglar alarm systems have various ways of detecting an intruder, coupled to various methods of raising the alarm – from loud noises and lights, to informing a security centre, and any combination of the above.

Home systems tend to use two main types of detector:

a) magnetic contacts on doors and windows which activate an alarm if the contacts are separated

b) interior Passive Infrared Detectors (PIRs) which activate an alarm when they react to body heat and movement within a defined arc. This is the most common type of detector used.

Monitored alarms

The main appeal of a monitored alarm is that if it goes off you know it won’t be ignored because it alerts a security centre that’s manned 24/7, which in turn alerts one or more of your nominated key holders. Fitted by professionals, monitored alarms are more expensive than off-the-shelf kits and have monthly fees attached.

What about extras like GSM functionality, panic buttons and CCTV?

The new breed of GSM alarms are designed to let you use your mobile phone as a remote control for your security system. A whole raft of different options is available including GSM temperature detectors and water/flood detectors.

Panic Buttons give peace of mind to the elderly and vulnerable. A wall-mounted panic button is typically combined with a personal pendant and when either is activated it dials one or more of the programmed contacts as well as alerting a customer security centre.

If you own your property it is legal to install CCTV provided planning permission is not required and provided the camera is trained on your property not your neighbour’s. Cameras trained on areas beyond property boundaries could amount to harassment and contravene The Human Rights Act.

Is it worth getting a dummy burglar alarm box?

The short answer is no. Professional thieves can tell the difference between a working alarm system and an empty yellow box sitting on the outside of a house. It won’t reduce your contents insurance either so you’re better off spending the money on improved locks.

How do I identify my ‘at risk areas’?

It all depends on the layout of your home. For example in a second floor flat the key risk area would be the hall adjacent to the entry door as this is the only reasonable entry route. A house with front and back doors will require detectors at both entry points, such as magnetic contacts on each door or PIRs positioned on the walls opposite. In practice the front door is generally deemed the entry/exit route and the control panel is sited nearby so you can activate it when you leave your home.

Tell me about exterior lighting to improve security

Outdoor security lighting is a simple, yet effective, way of protecting your property against vandalism and burglary – intruders would much rather go about their business in the dark! Remember it isn’t just the front of your home that needs security lighting: back doors and side alleys are just as vulnerable as the front and will benefit from lighting too.

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