How to Choose a Burglar Alarm

Featured in the June 2009 handbook.

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No one wants to be burgled. Fear of crime is growing and lurid media tales of aggressive intruders and injured householders certainly don't help.

More of us than ever before are choosing to fit an intruder alarm, and studies do show that you are far less likely to become a victim of burglary if you

have one.

But with a bewildering array to choose from how do you work out which one is right for your home?

Alarm types fall into two main categories: bell only types and monitored alarms. This is further complicated by the fact that either system can be hard-wired or wireless.

A good starting point when deciding on an alarm is the information provided by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) in their intruder alarm policy. This states that any wireless systems should comply with BS6799. At present there is only one wireless alarm on the market which complies!

Hard wired alarm installations should comply specifically with British Standard BS4737 as a bare minimum and BS7042 for high security systems.

These specifications alone somewhat reduce the number of systems to consider.

The next thing to think about is what level of urgency you'd like the police to respond with. For bell only systems, which trigger an alarm on the outside of the property, the police will also want evidence of a crime taking place i.e. a witness, before they investigate. It is therefore important when you fit an alarm to tell your neighbours and maintain it properly.

This minimises false alarms and means your neighbours will be much more likely to pay attention if the bell or siren sounds! Remote signalling alarms, which terminate at approved central monitoring stations are issued with a unique reference number (URN). These have a higher police priority, though this is dependent on the number of false alarms in the preceding 12 months.

It may take a little effort and outlay but protecting your home is always a worthwhile investment.

Choosing an installer

Try consulting your insurance company, they may be able to recommend someone. Check that the company is registered with a recognised trade association such as SSAIB or NSI (NACOSS). Obtain three quotations and remember that the cheapest is not necessarily the best. NEVER purchase an alarm from a anyone who cold calls at your front door. Make sure you check the agreement before YOU sign. Will you own or rent the system and what are the maintenance costs?

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