Do you need an alarm system?

A question that I’m sure not many people consider is “Do I actually need an alarm?”

The answer, similarly unconsidered, is probably not. But that is with caveats.

As a professional, I’ve broken into hundreds of houses a year for the best part of a decade. So, you’d think I’d be partly deaf from the dozens of alarm sirens. But no. You see, the sad truth is, most people never get the alarm serviced and checked, nor bother to set it. Or the alarm was there when they moved in, and they don’t know the code, or there is a fault on it, or they are just too lazy, or the fitter was an idiot who put the control panel “safely” under the stairs, where no man (or woman) ever goes, and is now full of junk.

So, why are so many houses fitted with alarms? I think a large part is the visual deterrent of the siren box outside. Even better if a scrote gets to see a PIR staring back at them before they start trying to break in – they know it isn’t just a dummy box. So they go a few doors down the estate where there is the exact same door but without an alarm visible. Just in case.

But what happens when an alarm goes off? Well, the easy way to tell the difference between a nice area and a bad area is what happens when the alarm goes off.

In a good area, you quite often get challenged before you have even got to the stage of the alarm triggering. The proverbial “nosey neighbour” is the best defence out there. Yes, better than a big dog.

In a bad area, you trip the alarm, and people actively avoid eye contact, staring at the floor as they walk carefully past, where they really strive to not get involved.

Funniest are the commercial premises, where breaking in in broad daylight will most likely result in no police response, even from the ones who walk on past the deafening noise, and a few little old ladies (mostly) who will approach not to see if you are stealing the safe, but to complain about the noise.

So, what is the answer? Well, technology can come to the rescue. The police no longer respond to a basic alarm going off, except to sometimes fine the householder for waking people up for more than 20 minutes in the night. What you therefore need is a monitored system. However, these are generally quite expensive, since they have to man a phoneline, even if it is in India. Also, recently there are scams running that sell you a relatively cheap alarm, but hard sell you into a 5 year monitoring plan that costs £3000!

Better perhaps to go with a more modern system that solves all the issues above. For a very simple system, you can buy a single PIR auto-dialler for less than £20, and this will call whatever number you assign it, letting you know first should anything happen, and allowing you to then call the police, or the property. You simply arm & disarm it with a code.

The far more advanced wireless alarms from Visisonic are commercial grade security combined with ease of use – You press a fob to arm and disarm the system, in the same way as you lock and unlock your car. With the addition of a handy little box, you can then have the system call you via your landline, or via a dedicated mobile phone add-on, or both.

Modern CCTV systems can also fairly easily be configured to send an image stream via the broadband connection to wherever in the world you are, email with motion sensed captured pictures, or even wired into the alarm system so that they start recording (10 seconds before!) the alarm triggers.

In my next post I’ll talk a bit about the solutions available for when you are a bit more off-the-grid, don’t want to run wires about the place, or if you don’t yet have power or other utilities in place – perhaps for a build-in-progress of a new home or whilst you are moving.

6 thoughts on “Do you need an alarm system?”

  1. Interesting points raised above, however the likes of a monitored alarm system is always an extremely valuable addition to any home and gives fantastic piece of mind.

  2. Monitored alarms cost “from £10” a month. Always-on broadband which you are paying for already, or an auto-dialler, are more cost effective.

  3. A bog standard alarm system does not cut it anymore, usually falls on deaf ears. Unless you are getting text and phone notifications your home is as vulnerable as anyones.

  4. Very good article, especially paragraph where you said “In a good area, you quite often get challenged before you have even got to the stage of the alarm triggering. The proverbial “nosey neighbour” is the best defence out there. Yes, better than a big dog.” lol

  5. The good news is that for under £500 you can have both a wireless alarm that will ring your phone, & IP cameras to see what is happening. In fact, as long as you have a smart phone and a mobile signal at both ends, you can do pretty well for a dorm room for under £150!

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