A good quality burglar alarm (also known as an intruder alarm) is the single best measure to reduce the risk of being burgled. The Home Office recently interviewed imprisoned burglars and 84% of them said that they would not willingly enter a building where a working alarm was fitted. Homes with poor security are 10 times more likely to be burgled than those with good, visible security including the bell box of an alarm system. If there are five similar houses in a row and four of them have bell boxes on the outside then the most likely one to be burgled will be the one without.
We would always recommend that your alarm is professionally fitted and regularly maintained. Not only does this give you safeguards against breakdown but a well maintained system is less likely to give false alarms. A professionally fitted system will only sound an alarm for a maximum of 20 minutes to reduce possible noise nuisance. Suitable companies will be registered either with the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) (sometimes referred to as NACOSS Gold) or the Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB). The advantages of using such companies include:-
· guaranteed standards of workmanship
· guaranteed quality of components
· good standards of after-sales service and maintenance
· criminal records bureau (CRB) checks of ALL staff working for the company.
Links to these bodies are:-
NEVER be bullied or conned into buying an alarm from someone who has telephoned you or turned up uninvited on your doorstep. Nottinghamshire Police often hears of cases where people have purchased alarms in this way from sales people who set out to raise fear of crime and even say that the Police will not respond to a report of a burglary unless it has come through a monitoring station. In June 2010 a local person agreed to a contract to have an alarm fitted for £199 provided he also had five years of monitoring at a total cost of £3,600 – half of which had to be paid up front. Other companies blatantly overcharge – “the normal cost of installation would be £5,000 but, seeing as you’re a pensioner, we’ll make it £3,000”. As well as the exorbitant cost, residents should beware of unknown persons seeking to gain entry to their homes to carry out so-called "inspections".
As a guide to price a hard wired system for a typical three bedroom semi-detached house would probably cost between £400 and £600 to install with probably between £40 and £80 a year maintenance costs. Compare this with the average cost (at 2003/04 prices) of a domestic burglary calculated by the Home Office: £3,268.
Installations can be hard wired (the components are connected together using cables which carry power to the outlying parts from the central control panel - these will normally be hidden away from view during the installation) or wireless (no connecting cables and each component will have its own battery power supply self-contained). Wireless components are usually more expensive than hard wired and you need to check regularly that the batteries are still charged.
A typical system would comprise:-
· a panel which will either have a keypad to enter a PIN code to set, part set or unset the alarm or may have something like a car's central locking remote control or a device to hold to the panel to do the same functions – this would normally be conveniently near the main door to the home and coming in through this door will allow a delay before the alarm is set off to allow the householder to unset the alarm on return home. Using the panel it is usually possible to “zone” the home so that, for example, upstairs the alarm can be off while downstairs it is on at night
· a control box which monitors all the other components, receives and interprets signals from them and decides if an alarm is needed – this is normally put somewhere out of sight
· several sensors of different types - doors and windows can be fitted with magnetic sensors which detect the opening of the door or window; the space within a room or corridor can be protected with passive infrared (PIR) or microwave sensors which detect movement within the space - if you have pets then special pet sensors can be fitted which will ignore the smaller body size of a cat or most dogs but will give an alarm if a human moves in the space. Vibration sensors and glass-break detectors are also possible components
· a warning device - usually a bell or siren fitted in a box on the outside of the building. This “bell box” is often fitted with strobe lights. Its purpose is to warn occupants and neighbours that someone has broken in, to disturb the intruder and to show which home has been broken into. It is also possible to add an autodialler which could ring you or a trusted friend or family member on a landline or mobile phone or even have remote monitoring by an alarm receiving centre which would contact the local police in case of a confirmed alarm - this last version is the most expensive and we would normally only recommend it in a domestic setting if there were particular reasons (e.g. an expensive piece of fine art)
· other more optional components might include a wireless link to an outbuilding such as a shed or garage, a link to fire or smoke alarms or a panic alarm which can set off the alarm in case of need.
There are many companies who can provide this facility and we would recommend that you get at least three competitive quotes before going ahead.
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