After a spate of burglaries in the campo, Paul Whitelock decided he needed to upgrade the security on his house. But what to do? Install rejas, the time-honoured, tried-and-tested Spanish system of metal grills in front of the windows or go for a modern burglar alarm?
In the UK I’d always had an alarm fitted on the houses I lived in, with magnetic contacts on ground floor doors and windows, infra-red detectors covering key areas throughout the house and an ear-splitting siren located in a highly visible box high on the front wall of the house.
Here in Andalucía, however, rejas had always seemed to do the trick, plus, for good measure, there were guard-dog neighbours on hand looking out for strangers hanging around the cheek-by-jowl houses in the towns and villages. In the campo it’s a different story, with fewer houses on bigger plots with ample opportunity for undetected access for people up to no good.
We got a quote for rejas – they were going to cost around 1000 euros. Then we discovered that the Junta de Andalucía is currently paying a subvención of 400 euros towards the cost of a basic alarm to encourage more households to fit one and so reduce the number of break-ins. Typically this brings the cost down to just 539 euros.
Not only that, for a nominal monthly payment the system is monitored 24/7. As soon as the alarm is triggered, the video cameras start filming. The control centre contacts the owner to check whether it’s a false alarm or a genuine incident and if it’s the latter the police are dispatched to your house immediately to investigate.
All very sophisticated and available at an affordable price. So we went for the alarm. No ugly rejas, requiring maintenance every few years, marring the exterior of the house and making those inside feel like they’re in a prison, just a couple of discreet signs informing would-be thieves that the house is protected by an alarm and that they will be filmed if they enter.
The first time we used the alarm we inadvertently set it off! But at least it proved the system worked – we got an immediate call from the control centre (in English, if required), gave our secret password, apologised for our user error and the system was reset.
Rejas or an alarm? Traditional houses have rejas anyway, though not usually on the doors, meaning these are a potential weak spot. On balance, for genuine peace of mind I’d go for the alarm every time now, whether my house already had rejas or not. And with the current grant from the Junta reducing the cost, now’s the time to get one fitted.
Footnote: The security systems industry in Spain is tightly controlled and regulated in line with EU requirements. Boletín Oficial del Estado (BOE) number 42, dated 18/2/2011, sets out over 18 pages the norms, standards and regulations for system design and quality, materials, function and the training of installers, as well as the rules governing noise disturbance, false alarms, police response and fines. If you’ve nothing better to do, you can read it here: http://boe.es/aeboe/consultas/bases_datos/doc.php?id=BOE-A-2011-3170