Best burglar alarms

Caroline Cassidy

For some of us returning home from a holiday can be the start of a nightmare. You may feel rested and relaxed but the sight of you belongings scattered across the floor will bring home the grim reality that you have been burgled. So how can you protect your home? Fitting an alarm system won't guarantee you aren't burgled but it will help.

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The police advise you to use an alarm installation company who are registered with the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) or the NSI (National Security Inspectorate). Ask for a free survey and written quotation, without obligation. The recommended names for alarm systems include ADT, Chubb and Dyno-Secure.

A good place to start when thinking of fitting a system is to talk to your local police station. They will have a crime reduction officer who can help you find reputable suppliers and offer advice on home security. You also need to check with your insurer to find out how your policy will be affected if you fit a system.

There are three main types of alarm, the bells only alarm, the monitored alarm and speech dialler.

A bells only alarm simply makes a lot of noise when triggered. It acts as a deterrent and will alert neighbours and passers by but won't generate a police response. These can cost anything from £350 - £600 with a further £100.00 in yearly maintenance.

A monitored alarm will cost you a little more than the bells only type. The difference here is that the system is connected to a receiving centre which monitors signals received from your alarm. If the detector is triggered then a signal will be sent to the call centre. They will then phone for a password ID to see if everything is OK. If the password is not received then the operator will contact one of your keyholders or the police. Installation will cost between £800-£1000 with the monitoring system adding a further £300.

A speech dialler will cost less than a monitored system. It works by having a speech dialler fixed to the alarm bell system. This will call pre-set numbers and leave a message. The extra cost of a speech dialler is around £150-£200.

These days people like the peace of mind of having a system that notifies the police. This will cost but it is recommended. The police won't always respond to bell only devices. Usually, two or more devices need to be triggered for a police response. Too many false alarms and you may be struck off the police register.