As we know, burglars want an easy life. They will pick the one house on the street that poses the fewest challenges. So the main aim for any security plan is to make things as inconvenient as possible for a burglar and encourage them to move on.
The average burglary takes just 10 minutes*
– and so, just as a reminder, there’s no point in fitting a burglar alarm system if you’ve not covered the simple (and relatively inexpensive) basics first:
- Good window and door locks – that are properly locked when you’re not in or at night
- Secured boundary fencing around your property but nothing too high at the front that burglars could operate safely behind – being seen from the road can be an effective deterrent
- Garden furniture, garages and outbuildings properly secured
- Safeguards when you’re away, like lights on timers and post and milk cancelled – a well-lit house will be less attractive to a burglar
- Vigilant neighbours who are aware of when you are at work or on holiday.
So now we have the basics covered, how about security lighting?
Good outside security lighting can either put off or draw attention to a burglar (something they will avoid if possible).
The type of lighting recommended by the police is high-efficiency low-energy lighting. It can be controlled by a dusk-to-dawn switch so that it comes on only when it’s dark, to help save energy. It also provides a constant and uniform level of light; it costs very little to run; and it can help to create a more reassuring environment as well as act as a good deterrent.
You might also be thinking about lights that come on if they sense movement. These can be annoying to neighbours though and potentially dangerous to passing traffic. If you do opt for these, make sure they are directed downwards.
Any lights you fit should be high enough to be out of easy reach – a height of at least 2.5 metres (eight feet) is something to aim for. Also think about what areas are best covered by outside lighting and remember how your lights might affect your neighbours.
And burglar alarms ...?
Again, as they’re looking for the easiest target, many burglars will avoid breaking into a property with an alarm.
There are many alarm systems on the market. These range from fairly cheap alarms, which you can fit yourself, to more sophisticated systems, costing more which need to be installed by professionals. Low-cost alarms are less reliable and can, through false alarms, be a nuisance to both you and your neighbours. The best advice seems to be, if you want an alarm fitted, get a trusted professional like ESP Security to handle it.
What sort of alarm do you need?
Consider whether you need an audible-only alarm (which sets off a siren or bell) or a monitored alarm. An audible-only alarm relies on someone (you or a neighbour) reporting the suspected breach to the police. And, according to the Metropolitan police, “due to the huge number of false alarms, police will only respond to audible alarms if there is confirmation of suspicious activity – such as a neighbour saying they saw someone or heard glass being broken”.
For monitored alarm systems (connected to a central 'listening' service), the monitoring company will check whether any alarm was false – for example, set off by the homeowners entering the wrong access code – and call out the police if necessary. Monitored systems are particularly effective for isolated properties.
If you are thinking about installing a burglar alarm, of any description,you are advised you to do the following:
- Get at least three quotes and specialist advice from companies that supply alarms.
- Get a professional to install the alarm and to explain how to operate it correctly to make sure that it will work properly.
Remember, intruder alarms or security lighting can greatly improve your chances of putting off burglars, but systems that aren’t fitted or managed properly can create problems in themselves. Don’t fit an alarm yourself unless you have the electrical knowledge and practical skills to do so, and think carefully about the position of lights and how they might affect others.