If you’re one of the millions of homeowners that has invested in a Burglar Alarm System for your property, you’ve already demonstrated a proactive approach to home security.
In fact, a Home Alarm could be one of the wisest purchases you’ve made. According to www,police.uk, domestic properties with no home security measures in place are five times more likely to be burgled than those with even the simplest level of protection.
The ultimate goal when installing a Home Security System is prevention, and so a Burglar Alarm is intended to do just that. The visual presence of an alarm alone provides an effective deterrent against burglars. The sound it makes when triggered then limits the time they are likely to spend on your property.
Whilst this is often enough to stop potential intruders from trying their luck, we cannot guarantee it will discourage the most brazen burglars, who may take greater risks to get what they want.
In this article, we consider some of the questions you may have about why your Home Alarm is triggered, what happens, and ways to make sure you’re always the first to know.
How does a Burglar Alarm work?
An electronic alarm system is designed to detect signs of an intruder trying to force their way into a property or moving around inside.
There are three main types of alarm system:
- Audible-Only Alarm System - If triggered, the system will emit a loud siren from the ‘Bell-Box’, which is typically installed on the outside of the building. This is considered the most basic level of alarm protection.
- Monitored Alarm System with Keyholder Response - In addition to the above, a monitored system sends a signal to a 24-hour Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) who will notify you and your 'keyholders'. Keyholders are people nominated by you to receive notifications about your alarm if you are unavailable e.g. on your holidays.
- Monitored Alarm System with Police Response - This works in the same way as a Monitored Alarm System but includes the option for the ARC to contact the Police directly. Being eligible for Police response is subject to your defined level of risk and includes additional fees to register your system with the Police database.
What makes a Burglar Alarm go off?
Firstly, an Alarm System will only go off if it has been ‘set’ by the owner. You should therefore make sure you set your alarm whenever you leave the house - even if only for a short amount of time.
The system includes different types of devices that do different jobs. The most common are ‘Door Contacts’ and ‘Motion Detectors’. You can also add other devices such as ‘Panic Buttons’.
Door Contacts are installed to doors or windows where a burglar could potentially break in. If a door or window that is fitted with a detector is forced open, it will trigger the alarm instantly.
Motion Detectors (or PIR - Passive Infrared Sensors) are more recognisable. These devices are installed within rooms where intruders are likely to gain access and will trigger the alarm when they detect signs of movement.
Why do House Alarms go off for no reason?
A healthy, well-maintained system should only go off if an intruder has been detected. However, as with any electronic system, older or poorly-maintained systems could be triggered by faulty equipment which cause false alarms. The best way to avoid this happening is to ensure your system is installed by a reputable security provider and you have a Service Contract to include ongoing maintenance of your system.
How will I know if my alarm goes off?
This depends on what type of alarm you have installed and whether you are at home.
Scenario 1: The alarm goes off when you are out...
- If you have an Audible-Only Alarm - You are reliant on a neighbour or passer-by hearing the siren and acting on your behalf. Many people ask their neighbours to contact them and the Police in the event their alarm goes off when they’re not at home. Passers-by may also choose to call the Police if they suspect a crime is taking place.
- If you have a Monitored Alarm with Keyholder Response - You will be notified of the alarm going off, no matter where you are in the world. The ARC will call your list of keyholders and will notify the first available person that the alarm has been activated. This gives you the opportunity to investigate and contact the Police if needed.
- If you have a Monitored Alarm with Police Response - The ARC will contact your keyholders and be able to request a direct response from the Police*
*Police response will only be initiated if the signal received by the ARC from the alarm is ‘confirmed’. A confirmed alarm signal means two individual devices (e.g. two motion detectors) have been triggered, indicating the presence of someone moving from room to room. This rule is designed to indicate a genuine case of intrusion and prevent the Police from attending false alarms. Entitlement to Police response is based on a ‘three-strike’ system. If all three strikes are used within a period of 12 months due to false alarms, Police response will be rescinded and can only reinstated by re-applying.
Scenario 2: The alarm goes off when you are at home…
There are two reasons why your alarm could go off when you are at home.
- Someone attempts to break-in when system is ‘part-set’ - The part-setting function allows you to set a specific area of your home whilst it is not occupied, leaving the rest unset. For example - you could set the downstairs of your home whilst you are in bed sleeping and leave the upstairs unset. You can then simply unset the downstairs when you wake up in the morning.
- Your system develops a fault - Sometimes unavoidable but is less likely if your system has been regularly maintained.
When alarm triggers, the siren will sound. If you have a monitored system, you will also receive a phone call from the ARC. The message you receive from the ARC will depend on what signal has been sent from the alarm’s Control Panel. For example, the ARC may tell you: “There is an unconfirmed alarm in Zone 1.” That would indicate one device has been activated.
There are many potential scenarios. Please get in touch if you have any specific questions.
What if no-one is around to hear my alarm going off?
In the event an audible-only alarm is triggered and there is no-one nearby to take action, unfortunately, there is not much that can be done. This is perhaps more prevalent in rural areas where there are not as many houses and the surroundings are more remote. It is another reason why monitoring is a valuable option to consider.
I am afraid my alarm will go off when I am not at home and no-one will take any notice
In today’s busy world, the sound of an alarm is unfortunately sometimes considered more of a nuisance than an emergency. Being realistic, how many times have you heard a sounding alarm but weren’t sure where it was coming from or whether it was genuine? It's likely you wouldn’t be the only person to ignore it.
However, there is way to change this mentality, in the form of a long-standing network which aims to create safer and stronger communities.
Being part of a Neighbourhood Watch scheme is a great way of increasing vigilance and fighting crime in your community. If you live in a built-up area, simply keeping an eye out for one another can be the most effective defence against criminals. Click the link to find your nearest scheme.
What if I don’t want to rely on my neighbours?
Sometimes, you just don’t want to ask your neighbours, and that's fine too. Maybe you don’t want to be a burden or you don’t always see eye to eye. If this is the case, then choosing to have your Burglar Alarm system monitored is the most reliable way of knowing if it goes off.
How much does a Monitored Alarm cost?
The cost of alarm monitoring is usually paid for on a monthly basis as an additional service. Here at Allcooper, we offer our residential customers the option to pay for their Service Contract and monitoring fees by Direct Debit, spread over 12 months. This usually brings the figures down to a nominal monthly sum, typically equating to around £1.00 per day. Ultimately, the overall cost will depend on your individual system. To be accurate, we recommend requesting a quotation for what the charges are likely to be for your specific requirements.
Are there any cheaper alternatives to choosing an Alarm Monitoring Service?
The answer is yes. New technology has been introduced to the home security market in recent years which has allowed Home Alarms to become smarter.
A Smart Alarm System is one that allows you to use a mobile App to monitor the system yourself. There are costs involved for set up, but this self-monitoring approach is more affordable as the onus is on you to keep an eye on things, rather than an external ARC.
In addition, the App can be used to set and unset your system from wherever you are. No need to worry if you’ve forgotten to set it in the midst of the morning rush! These features are of course dependent on the system you have installed. Older systems may need to be upgraded to take advantage of this new technology.
Summary of Alarm Monitoring options
To recap, there are several different alarm monitoring options available and careful consideration is needed to establish which might be right for you.
- Audible-Only Alarms - Reliant on neighbours and passers-by reacting to the alarm.
- Smart Alarms with Self-Monitoring - Using App to monitor and manage your alarm on the move.
- Monitored Alarms with Keyholder Response - 24-hour monitoring by an Alarm Receiving Centre who will contact you and your keyholders if the alarm is triggered.
- Monitored Alarms with Police Response - This is more suited to high-risk homes and is the most expensive solution.
Ask our experts
If you would like any more information about Home Security Systems, Home Alarm Systems or Alarm Monitoring, please get in touch through our online enquiry form or by calling our team on 01452 372626.