Charlatan burglar alarm salesmen know exactly how to play on clients’ anxieties by claiming their home is vulnerable in a questionable neighbourhood and ripe for a break in. But of course, expensive monitored alarms, CCTV and motion detectors will make all the difference.
These are scare tactics but some of what they say is true. Burglars are lazy and will almost always go for the easiest option: an open back window or the only house in the street without an alarm. Certain basic home security measures apply everywhere in the world and can greatly reduce the likelihood of a break in. Most burglars pick their targets based on visible signs of security and will be put off by simple security measures that can be relatively inexpensive.
The majority of break ins occur when a house or a flat is empty and in darkness. A spokesperson for fire and security company ADT who operate in France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and Southern Ireland, advises “people need to ensure their homes look occupied, whether out at work all day or away on holiday people should try to make their homes look lived-in.”
Something as simple as bright lights could prevent a break in by giving a home the “lived in” appearance. According to ADT, inside lighting is a cost effective deterrent to burglars, which gives the impression the owners are home. Outside lighting is also essential to home security and can be controlled by a dusk-till-dawn switch so that it comes on when it gets dark.
Burglar alarms are at the more expensive end of the home security spectrum, but these systems are worth the investment. Statistics released by the British government show that 60 per cent of breaks in on houses with an alarm fail. An alarm can be effective as a deterrent, hence the popularity of “dummy” burglar alarms. Seasoned burglars can spot a fake but they are better than nothing.
The next step up from the dummy alarm is the “bells only” system.“Bells only” are the most common type of alarm and are relatively cheap, costing around £500 to be installed professionally in the UK. DIY alarms are also available at a much cheaper rate but are obviously far less effective.
The “bells only” system consists of an outside siren encased in a waterproof box, which is triggered by infra red motion detectors positioned throughout the house and on doors and windows. Although the presence of a burglar alarm might prompt an intruder to pick another target, the “bells only” system has major drawbacks. Alarm sirens are a nightly occurrence and most people sigh with exasperation as soon as the siren sounds, rather than checking on their neighbour’s property.
Because so few neighbours respond to sirens, burglar alarms now offer auto dialler services. When an alarm is activated, the system will dial pre entered numbers and alert them of a potential burglar.
Monitored alarms are much more difficult to ignore than the standard “bells only” system. The alarm goes to a central monitoring system, who will then inform the police or key holders nominated by the homeowners. According to the ADT spokesperson: “Police, insurers and security specialists all agree that the greatest improvement you can make to your home security is to link your security system to an alarm receiving centre that can inform the local police if an intrusion takes place.
Like burglar alarms, closed circuit television (CCTV) also comes in a variety of formats. Body cameras are used outside homes and are available in both black and white and colour. They are clearly visible. In contrast, bullet cameras are designed for covert use and hidden from sight.
Home owners are wise to ignore conmen selling unnecessary and expensive systems yet burglaries are a financial disaster. Insurance companies rarely stump up the full value of a claim and premiums soar. Sophisticated panic rooms and perimeter defences might not be necessary but inexpensive security measures can save a fortune.
Fire detectors are pretty important household items, but when was the last time you checked the batteries to make sure yours is functioning properly? Hard to remember, isn’t it? Even if you’re faithful about changing out the batteries, you’ll likely admit the task is a pain, because you probably have to get out a ladder or at least drag over a chair to stand on. Well, the Dupont self-charging smoke alarm is an alternative. The unit screws into the light fixture on your ceiling and charges any time the light is on. All you have to do to test it is go to the light switch and flip it twice. With this smoke detector, there’s no reason to get out the ladder. You can buy one for about $30.
The Zephyr Om range hood, from the company’s Elica collection, is a sleek alternative to the clunky hoods of yesteryear. It is a flat square of reverse-silk-screened glass, which hangs against the wall above the cook top. A circle is embedded in it, and around the circumference are tiny intake holes to suck in smoke and odors. The hood has a 450-cfm blower with a ductless configuration (as with an air purifier, air is filtered and recirculated instead of being blown outside). To brighten the work area, the hood includes four halogen lights hidden within the stainless steel bar above the ventilation circle. A discreet backlit touch screen interface is mounted alongside the hood. The price for the Zephyr Om is about $3,900.