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Do audible-only burglar alarms work?

by Andy Clutton

How-effective-are-audible-alarmsKevin Woodberry is the owner of securityalarms.co.uk, a website that offers people advice on buying a home security alarm system. Kevin has noticed that many people say they are only interested in a basic audible only system, without monitoring. So using a nifty bit of software, he decided to ask 1000 of the website visitors a very simple question:

What do you do when you hear a burglar alarm ringing in your neighbourhood?

Bearing in mind that these people have confidence in home alarm systems, or they wouldn’t be the website in the first place, Kevin found the results quite astonishing…

Over 30% of neighbours would ignore it while the majority, 42%, would have a quick peek out the window. Would this really stop a burglar from burgling?

That’s 75% of audible alarm activations which would go virtually unnoticed.

So – as much as it pains us to say it, audible only intruder alarms (the ones which make a racket and annoy you and the neighbours), simply do just that, and very little else in the way of security.

Sure, the presence of an alarm box on the outside of a house will indeed act as an initial deterrent, but what happens when the opportunist thief overlooks it? Sadly, most probably – Nothing!

This is most probably why some companies sell their burglar alarms with a decoy bell box only. Their key-holder monitored systems don’t actually sound a siren when an intrusion is detected; their monitoring station simply calls the key holders.

Kevin’s advice is that if a homeowner wants a home security system which does not go ignored, they need to look a bit further than audible only. And there are plenty of other options…

GSM speech diallers have been around for years, tried and tested, cheap to install and maintain, but do rely on the owner and the chosen key holders to act when called.

Monitored burglar alarms systems are monitored 24/7 by an independent Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC). A more expensive solution but removes the reliance on the homeowner always being available, or not available as is inevitably the case. However, if the ARC is notified of alarm activation they then call and the chosen key holders, so it’s back to square one.

Police monitored alarm systems, are perhaps surprisingly NOT monitored by the police. They are monitored by the same ARC mentioned above but may pass on property details through to the local county police force providing they can verify a genuine alarm activation. Even then, the 999 call will be handled by the police in priority against other incidents, so do not expect blue flashing lights to catch the burglar red handed as sadly this very rarely happens.

Kevin drops in a fourth option to think about:

Smart alarms notify the homeowner via push notifications sent over SMS or email to a smart phone and can optionally send still images or a live video stream of what’s going on inside the property. There’s a whole host of other benefits to smart alarms such as being able to arm/disarm, receive events of when alarm is set/unset – and by whom, remotely on your phone.

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