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The Psychology of Alarms on Burglar Deterrence


We all know the theory behind getting a burglar alarm installed. The sensors detect motion and trigger a siren. Thus, scaring any would-be intruders away before they draw any unwanted attention. And, crucially, before they make off with any of your valuables. But are burglar alarms really an efficient deterrent? And how does that help you, the homeowner?

The Psychology of Deterrence and Burglar Alarms

The psychology of deterrence

The principle of deterrence is that thieves would rather focus on an easy target. The Metropolitan Police recently stated that most burglars are opportunistic. That they are more likely to access a home they pass with an open window than to ‘case a joint’ that looks ripe for the picking. Which means that homes with a visible security system in place – whether that’s a burglar alarm or CCTV – automatically become less appealing because they pose more risk.

Why are burglar alarms such an effective deterrent?

Burglar alarms provide three levels of deterrent.


If a property is equipped with a burglar alarm, it will always be visible from the exterior. That allows criminals to assess the potential risk associated with a break-in. And in most cases, that visual deterrent will be enough to persuade them to seek another target.


The siren is the burglar alarm’s functional deterrent. Drawing attention from far and wide, unless an alarm is clearly unmonitored and is frequently sounding, very few thieves would risk it. But it is important to remember that you must always respond to an activated burglar alarm. With a monitored system, you can leave that concern to your provider. But if you choose an unmonitored alarm, you must always ensure that it is not left to sound. Partly because you’ll become public enemy No.1 with your neighbours if you don’t. And partly because if an alarm is regularly left untended, local criminals will come to know that it’s safe to enter your property regardless.


We’ve already mentioned the psychology of visual deterrence, but burglar alarms also work on another level. The psychology of the unknown. When a burglar alarm sounds, the criminal doesn’t know what’s going to happen. Is the alarm a fake? Does it just make a noise? Or is it monitored? Is someone likely to come a catch them in the act, massively increasing the likelihood of prosecution? This uncertainty makes alarmed properties a lot less appealing.

Burglar alarms are a highly effective means of protecting your property from intruders. Although they’ve changed dramatically since, they’ve been around for more than 170 years, with the first being invented in 1853. If they weren’t effective, they wouldn’t still be evolving, advancing, and being installed in homes all around the world. But knowing the psychology of why they are effective can help you to work out where best to install them.

Get in touch with Securvision to discover the best security solutions for your home. 

The post The Psychology of Alarms on Burglar Deterrence appeared first on Securvision.

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