Burglar alarms and other security devices are unfortunately now becoming commonplace but how far do you go?
If it’s your home you’re doing up, then the choice is yours, but if you’re renovating for profit, really obvious security systems might put customers off.
One developer working in an English city always puts bars on the downstairs windows of properties he is renovating because, on one occasion, all his building materials and tools were stolen.
But he takes them off once the property is finished and on the market, because he knows they will make buyers think that a neighbourhood is insecure.
Still, there’s a lot you can do without going to that extreme. If you are concerned about people getting into a back garden, there are a variety of fences and add-ons that will deter climbers without giving your home the barbed wire and broken glass look.
The police recommend defensive planting, using hawthorns and roses under ground floor windows, as a prettier way to make it difficult for burglars to get in. Motion activated lighting will also deter burglars, as they will move on to an easier target.
Start with the basics as well, installing a good mortise lock rather than just a Yale lock on both front and back doors and locking catches for all the windows. Police stations often have leaflets advising on the various security measures recommended.
Choosing an Alarm System
Alarm systems are usually based on detectors that feed back to a central unit, either by wire or using radio waves. The detectors can be infrared movement detectors (known as PIRs) mounted either internal or externally, and other detectors such as contacts on a window or door or weight sensors under doormats and carpets.
Most installations will have a combination of all of these, and some will also have a personal alarm that you can set off if you believe you are in danger.
The central control unit is used to set and unset the system, usually with a code that only you know. The main difference between systems is that some will automatically phone a regional call centre that will alert the local police, and others simply make a noise.
One of the pitfalls of systems that alert the authorities by phone is that the police may blacklist your property if you have too many false alarms in a set period. This is different from area to area but to avoid this happening some services will phone you at your property to check before alerting the police.
Before investing in a system it’s worth finding out what the police procedure is in the area and what your alarm service procedures are.
You should also check that the system is of a type that the police will recognise and accept alerts from. Such alarms should meet British Standard 4737 and beware those that claim to be up to British Standard but do not specify which one.
These will probably be claiming to meet a standard that covers the electrical wiring rather than and alarm standard. The police are also likely to require that there are two key holders that they can contact who are within twenty minutes of the property.
Finally, you might find that if you install an approved alarm system, your home and contents insurance policy may give you a discount, so it’s worth checking which ones they recognise before going ahead.