Skip to content

Silhouette

DSA, Bath, 2011

“DSA Bath” burglar alarm, Bath • Burglar running through curtain, pretty similar to the one here. • Spotted: York Buildings, Bath, Avon, BA1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat […]
DSA, Bath, 2011

Crime Stop, Birmingham: avatar

Crime Stop Protected "Crime Stop Protected" burglar alarm, Birmingham • Used as my avatar yet I've never previously published this round version. So here it is, in all its shadowy intruder-like glory. • Spotted: Meriden Street, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Birmingham Ladywood
Crime Stop, Birmingham: avatar

Greystag, Birmingham: stationary

Greystag SnowHillStn Birmingham 6150_800 "Greystag Security Systems" burglar alarm, Birmingham • And finally for this run of crazy creatures, a grey stag I spotted just last week in Birmingham – it seems to be the guardian beast of choice on every train station there. • Spotted: Snow Hill station, Livery Street, Birmingham, West Midlands, B3, England, 2013 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Birmingham Ladywood
Greystag, Birmingham: stationary

Salamander, Stratford-upon-Avon: Shakespearean

Salamander ChurchSt StratfordUponAvon nr CV37 8EJ 20083_800

"Salamander Monitored Alarm Systems" burglar alarm, Stratford-upon-Avon • A while back I featured a gecko, and now here's a salamander. Will this motley parade of non-burglar-alarm-appropriate creatures never cease? Or is it actually a clever piece of Shakespearean-style wordplay on "monitor lizard"? • Spotted: Church Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Stratford-on-Avon

Salamander, Stratford-upon-Avon: Shakespearean

Blakeglow, Southwark: dolphin

Blakeglow BermondseySt nr SE1 3UB 50865_800 "Blakeglow" burglar alarm, Southwark • A contender for the least-convincing burglar alarm corporate identity award, this tiny peeling sticker looks like it was drawn in biro, and – bizarrely – features that noted guardian beast, a leaping dolphin. At least, that's what I think it is; the shape of its beak seems to rule out a killer whale. • Spotted: Bermondsey Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
Blakeglow, Southwark: dolphin

“Tamar”, Exeter: gridlocked

"Tamar Security" burglar alarm, Exeter • Ah, the eternally gridlocked Tamar Bridge, slender link across he Tamar between Devon and Cornwall. It's not named after the Jewish temptress of Biblical legend (more's the pity), but an ancient British word meaning something like "dark flowing", as is the Thames. • Spotted: Town centre, Exeter, Devon, EX1, England, 2009 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Exeter Above: the real Tamar Bridge
“Tamar”, Exeter: gridlocked

“Claymore Security”, Edinburgh: great sword

"Claymore Security" burglar alarm, Edinburgh • I wrongly guessed yesterday's sword was a scimitar, when in fact it was a Saxon Seax. Fortunately there's no chance of getting this one wrong, as it's written on the sounder: it's the Scottish Claymore or "great sword", much used in clan warfare and recognisable by the forward-sloping arms of its handle. The firm behind the weapon is a long-standing Scottish outfit – you can find their website here. • Spotted: Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH1, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Edinburgh East
“Claymore Security”, Edinburgh: great sword

“Essex Security Services”, Tower Hamlets: not scimitars

"Essex Security Services" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Courtesy of Essex Security Services, already heavily featured on this blog, come what I at first thought were three scimitars – curved sabres good for slashing from horses, and much favoured in medieval Arabia. But as I am reliably informed by the firm's head honcho (see comments, below), they are in fact Seaxes: Germanic daggers from which the Essex-bound Saxons took their name, and which now feature in the Essex coat of arms. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Essex Security Services”, Tower Hamlets: not scimitars

“Guardian Security”, Hull: James Bond

"Guardian Security (Hull)" burglar alarm, Kingston upon Hull • Now we move from guards to guardians, an altogether gentler-sounding concept. This one's a mysterious figure with a touch of menace – and a hint of James Bond in the logo. Because James Bond always hangs out in Hull. • Spotted: Town centre, Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire, HU1, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hull West and Hessle
“Guardian Security”, Hull: James Bond

“August Alarms”, Islington: venerable month

"August Alarms" burglar alarm, Islington • Is that August the eighth month of the Gregorian calendar, or August to rhyme with disgust – meaning venerable? Either way it doesn't matter, because you're not getting past the mammoth portcullis. Or maybe it's an upside-down picket fence. • Spotted: Evershot Road, Islington, London, N4, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington North
“August Alarms”, Islington: venerable month

“Swift Alarms Supplies”, Westminster: fast flier

"Swift Alarms Supplies Limited" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • There are billions (approx) of security firms featuring birds, but this is only the second Swift I've found – the other one is here, and is called simply Swift. This looks like the same silhouette and font as on that one, so I reckon it's an older incarnation of the same company which, judging by the 0892 code, was based in the Tunbridge Wells area. The selfsame bird can be found on the current website of  Swift Alarms Group, and indeed it says they started life in Tunbbridge Wells in 1978 as Swift Alarms Supplies Limited, so my guess was right. I should have just gone to their website first... • Spotted: Newman Passage, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Swift Alarms Supplies”, Westminster: fast flier

“Amega Alarms”, Oxford: worshipping hands

"Amega Alarms" burglar alarm, Oxford • These severed, supplicating hands look like they're worshipping rays of light, or catching a shower, but actually they're cradling a faded letter A. It belongs to Oxford-based Amega, a 25-year-old firm whose more recent boxes, featuring the same design, can be seen here. I've also come across handless sounders bearing the very similar name Amiga – as in the legendary 1980s computer – but I assume that's a completely different company. • Spotted: Park End Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Oxford East
“Amega Alarms”, Oxford: worshipping hands

“Longcross Security”, Bristol: scribble trees

"Longcross Security" burglar alarm, Bristol • Yet more woodlands, this time in pictures rather than words. Longcross Security, founded 2001, is a big firm with a very corporate-looking website, so I guess the tree silhouettes are some branding agency's attempt at portraying longevity and stability – it's a very popular device. The firm's head office is in Ashstead, Surrey, so at least that's got part of a tree in its name. The species on the sounder all look different, but I'm not horticultural enough to know what types are represented, or if there's an ash present – maybe they're just "scribble" trees. • Spotted: Town centre, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Longcross Security”, Bristol: scribble trees

“GD Security”, Southwark: un-describable wedgie

"GD Security" burglar alarm, Southwark • Another wedgie sounder with an un-describable shape, from the prolific GD Security, whose bulldog I've already featured here in the dogs category. While their guard mutt never changes, GD use a wide variety of box designs, usually in silver. This however is in blue and white, which I always think of as subliminal "police" colours. • Spotted: Morocco Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“GD Security”, Southwark: un-describable wedgie

“Security” (with crown), Southwark: nameless ruler

"Security" burglar alarm with crown, Southwark • This cheerful yellow sounder, found on Decima Studios in Bermondsey, is a complete mystery – it doesn't even have a name. Presumably the cracker-style crown indicates the title "Crown Security", unless the company is simply called "Security", which would certainly be cornering the market. The phone number is a shifty old mobile one, and googling it turns up absolutely nothing, so a mystery the bell box must remain. • Spotted: Decima Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Security” (with crown), Southwark: nameless ruler

“Crown Securities”, Stoke: save the Wedgwood!

"Crown Securities" burglar alarm, Stoke-On-Trent • My excuse for this one being blurred is that it was high up on a horrible pub and I just snapped it while I was scurrying past, feeling slightly beleaguered. For, contrary to what it says beneath the only remotely accurate rendition of a non-panto crown I've come across so far, there are no securities in Stoke. At least I was lucky enough to see the fantastic Wedgwood Museum while I was up there, something which should belong to the nation, but whose collection is about to be sold off due to (simplistically) Robert Maxwell's pension fund rapacity, a poorly-drafted law, and some naive financial management by the museum's trustees. Which is tragic and disgraceful, as the Wedgwood Museum is one of the few uplifting and tourist-enticing things in what is, with no disrespect intended, a pretty grim and depleted area. There's a campaign to save the Wedgwood here: it isn't a very good website unfortunately, but anyone concerned about our future heritage should try and wade their way through its templates and send a letter to the relevant MPs it suggests. There's also a billionaire white knight in the offing – Phones4u founder John Caudwell, who grew up in Stoke – but it shouldn't have come to this. Hmmm, Jan 7th and already off topic... and I said I wasn't going to write much this year! • Spotted: Hanley town centre, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Stoke on Trent Central
“Crown Securities”, Stoke: save the Wedgwood!

“Crown”, City of Westminster: weedy update

"Crown" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • I debated whether to put this in, because it's almost the same as yesterday's, and I said my somewhat irascible piece about crowns then. However, at the risk of being hoist by my own anti-History Channel petard, this is a sad example of how burglar alarm design degenerated from its glory days of sturdy metal boxes and proud ridged roundels to the tacky, plasticky nothings that booted them out. Look how much worse this weedy update has worn and faded than yesterday's fine original. And as for the bland corporate font – it doesn't even conjure up the Nazis! And what kind of a sorry excuse for a burglar alarm is that? • Spotted: Horseferry Road, City of Westminster, London, SW1, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Crown”, City of Westminster: weedy update

“Crown”, City of Westminster: top tropes

"Crown" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • To me, the fact that a pointy metal hat can represent ultimate power is a troubling reminder of the sheer randomness of human society, but it's not a philosophical point that unduly taxes burglar alarm proprietors, who flock to its received symbolism in droves. This crudely-printed example is a real winner: a crown that looks like it came in a cracker, over a black-letter font bearing the twin tropes of Merrie England and its evil World War II enemies the Nazis, both big-hitting themes in burglar alarm world (which bears more than a passing resemblance to life as portrayed on the History Channel). • Spotted: Strutton Ground, City of Westminster, London, SW1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Crown”, City of Westminster: top tropes

“Minster Alarms”, York: monster minster

"Minster Alarms" burglar alarm, York • Minster, a word dating from Saxon times and derived from the Latin for "monastery", is an honorific title for an important church. Minster Alarms are scattered all over York, so we can assume they refer to the monster minster looming up behind yesterday's Monks alarm – namely York Minster, one of northern Europe's largest Gothic cathedrals, whose foundations date back to Roman times. These days it houses the C of E's number two boss, the Archbishop of York; cleric number one lives in London, despite being known as the Archbishop of Canterbury. In fact he's a near neighbour of mine, being based at Lambeth Palace in SE1, but I've never been invited round for tea... • Spotted: Grape Lane, York, Yorkshire, YO1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Minster Alarms”, York: monster minster

“Raven”, York: common thief

"Raven Security & Automation Ltd" burglar alarm, York • To round off a couple of weeks of hawkish birds, here are a few more arbitrary birds I've come across since the last lot. Raven is a generic name for various large members of the corvid or crow family, of which the Common Raven – which this sounder presumably depicts – is the biggest and most, well, common. It's an interesting bird, very intelligent and with a long and usually dark history in folklore and literature, but I can't see its relevance to security systems. Like its fellow corvid and burglar alarm star the magpie, it's a scavenger and wily thief, associated with dead spirits and evil deeds, so hardly great protection material. Sure, ravens are famed for "protecting" the crown jewels by not flying away from the Tower of London – but that's just a stupid Victorian marketing tale. More prosaically, this is probably the proprietor's surname – which in medieval times referred to a dark-haired, thievish type, so still not very appropriate. Uncanny coincidence: ravens are so clever they're known to use twigs as toys, and there's a twig lodged behind this bell box. So maybe a real raven put it there. • Spotted: Marygate, York, Yorkshire, YO1, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Raven”, York: common thief

“Gecko Properties”, Bristol: self-amputation

"Gecko Properties" burglar alarm, Bristol • I love this! It's so weird, a splay-footed little gecko scampering up a cracked wall via a burglar alarm, bringing a touch of the tropical to Bristol. As to the gecko's suitability for anti-crime duties, well, it hunts at night, can sneak along walls and ceilings, and has no eyelids, so it's always on the lookout. It also shits on its aggressors and, in extremis, self-amputates its tail. Much more useful than a fox• Spotted: St Nicholas Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West Above: a real gecko (photo by ZooFari)
“Gecko Properties”, Bristol: self-amputation

“Fox Systems”, York: hatless

"Fox Systems" burglar alarm, York • Perhaps it's a bit soon to revisit this particular fox, which I pictured with a hat of pigeon spikes a couple of weeks ago. But I really like this alarm, and I wanted to show it without a crown. It's a clean and stylish design, although – being super-niggly – I would have preferred centered type (look closely, and you'll see it's ranged left). • Spotted: Swinegate Court East, York, Yorkshire, YO1, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Fox Systems”, York: hatless

“Fox”, York: screeching stalker

"Fox Systems" burglar alarm, York • This alarm just looks like someone stuck a load of giant hatpins on it, though the stalking fox lends an air of surrealism. (The fox is a popular burglar alarm beast, as I shall illustrate soon.) My local area is aswarm with both foxes and pigeons, whose habits of night time screeching and daytime shitting are not a great combination. I blame Ken Livingstone, who had the pigeons chased away from Trafalgar Square with hawks. They all ended up on my balcony, and presumably the foxes followed. • Spotted: Swinegate Court East, York, Yorkshire, YO1, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Fox”, York: screeching stalker

“Eros Security Systems”, Lambeth: crazy love god

"Eros Security Systems" burglar alarm, Lambeth • After a couple of sensible mythological burglar alarms, we're back to the bonkers ones. Eros? What on earth has Eros, Greek god of sexual love, got to do with security services? And anyway, this looks more like his boyish Roman counterpart Cupid, who was often portrayed as younger than the fully-formed teenage Eros. The resemblance to the Evening Standard's venerable logo makes me think this is a reference to the so-called Eros statue at Piccadilly Circus, that icon of tourist London. However, hard though it is to believe, what Wikipedia says about Alfred Gilbert's piece of high Victorian camp is true. I've double-checked, and the statue that stands surrounded by the horrible hurly burly of Piccadilly is not intended to be Eros, but his butterfly-winged twin brother Anteros, who was associated with selfless and requited love (although he sounds like a half-baked deity the Greeks made up to impress the Romans). For all its faults, this silly, cheeky alarm is one of my all-time favourites – so naughty Cupid has worked his mischievous magic. • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall Above: Eros and his twin in London. Top left: "Eros Stringing His Bow", a Roman copy of a Greek statue at the British MuseumTop right: ''The Angel of Christian Charity'' aka "The Shaftesbury Memorial" (1893) by Alfred Gilbert at Picadilly Circus, colloquially known as the Eros statue, but actually depicting his selfless twin bro Anteros. Above: London's familiar Evening Standard "Eros" logo (recently dropped from their masthead), which depicts the Piccadilly Circus statue and is therefore actually Anteros.
“Eros Security Systems”, Lambeth: crazy love god

“Falcon Security”, Liverpool: tatty bird, nice niche

"Falcon Security" burglar alarm, Liverpool • I always enjoy burglar alarms' varied architectural settings: some languish in obscure corners amidst layers of grimy urban decay, whilst others are proudly placed and neatly painted around. Some are even fortunate enough to have their own dedicated niches, and it is to these that I turn this week. Having just finished a fortnight of random burglar alarm birds, my first niche is home to a rather tatty falcon (a species be covered more fully in a later series on hawkish alarm birds). This circular brickwork detail decorates a 19th-century warehouse near Tate Liverpool, now given over to that booming 21st-century descendant of warehousing, self-storage. • Spotted: Norfolk Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Liverpool Riverside
“Falcon Security”, Liverpool: tatty bird, nice niche

“Kingfisher”, Winchester: flying blue flash

"Kingfisher Security (UK) Limited" burglar alarm, Winchester • Yet another seemingly-arbitrary bird, the kingfisher's main burglar alarm credentials are hunting skills, feisty territoriality and the appearance of a blue flash as it flies (suggestive perhaps of a strobe, though this is a mite fanciful). It doesn't have an impressive cry, so its "siren" properties are not a qualification. However its main attractions are surely its attractive looks and name: the implied monarchy theme is ever-popular with security firms. The most interesting non-security fact I could discover about about kingfishers is that they have a transparent third eyelid and extraordinarily complex eyes, which work in two modes: sharply monocular in air, and blurrily binocular in water – all the better for spearing fish. • Spotted: Town centre, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Winchester
“Kingfisher”, Winchester: flying blue flash

“Dove”, Rugby: the burglar alarm of peace

"Dove Security Systems" burglar alarm, Rugby • An unusual bird choice for an anti-theft device: the allegedly sweet-natured dove, traditional symbol of peace and love. The simplified dove-with-olive-branch graphic popular with peace movements today derives from a post-WWII design by Picasso, but even though this photo is blurred (the alarm was really high up and shot at dusk), I can tell it's not one of Pablo's. Presumably that is an olive branch in its beak, though it looks more like a leech – which would be appropriate to represent a burglar, but seems unlikely. Technically, as a branch of the Columbidae family, the dove is just a small non-feral pigeon. But "Small Non-Feral Pigeon Security Systems" doesn't have quite the same ring. • Spotted: Market Place, Rugby, Warwickshire, CV21, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Rugby
“Dove”, Rugby: the burglar alarm of peace

“ES Security”, Southwark: don’t mix crime with mime

ES Security burglar alarm, Southwark, 2010"ES Security" burglar alarm, Southwark • Another window-clutching mime artiste (see also Securitech, Exeter), wearing a strange beret-like hat possibly inspired by annoying Gallic "clown" Marcel Marceau. Unhappily for the lithe snooper, there is a highly advanced second burglar alarm hidden inside the window (I'm assuming this is an interior view), whose powerful sound waves have brutally severed his right foot. That'll teach him to mix crime with mime. This is my last "shadowy intruder" for now, and I must admit I'm rather bored with their anonymous silhouettes – I prefer the bizarre cartoon felons I think of as "pantomime burglars", of which some prime specimens will follow shortly. • Spotted: Southwark Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark ES Security burglar alarm, Southwark, 2010
“ES Security”, Southwark: don’t mix crime with mime

“Corinium Security”, Cirencester: shell suited shadow

Corinium Security burglar alarm, Cirencester, 2007"Corinium Security" burglar alarm, Cirencester • An unusually athletic shadowy intruder in a pre-internet shell suit, performing Parkour across a DIY array of stickers in a manner reminiscent of the Milk Tray man. Most Corinium alarms feature elaborate classical designs (Cirencester, aka the Roman town of Corinium Dobunnorum, is that kind of place) – I'll get round to those later. • Spotted: Town centre, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cotswolds Corinium Security burglar alarm, Cirencester, 2007
“Corinium Security”, Cirencester: shell suited shadow

“Regal”, Wandsworth: a work by Neville Brody?

Regal Security Systems burglar alarm, Wandsworth, 2002"Regal Security Systems" burglar alarm (stickered over RH Alarms), Wandsworth • Oh, the ignominy – having another firm's logo plastered over your head. There's enough of the original design showing to discern that this is an RH Alarms box, the same as yesterday's faded felon – their trademark running figures had clearly become yesterday's men. The Regal design is also pretty ancient by now, and looks inspired by the 1980s works of Neville Brody (famed art director of style mag The Face), especially his 1984 record sleeve for Marilyn's Baby U Left Me. I'm sure the logo font is one of his: it's like a cross between Dome and Typeface 4. I can't find a digital version, but of course any old designer could have photocopied the letters from magazine headlines, as was common practice pre-DTP. However Brody did design things like estate agents' boards in his earlier days, so it's not inconceivable he had a hand in this – and a conspiracy theorist would note that his font foundry, Fuse, ran a design competition on the theme of security in 2005. The only regal connotations of the honeycomb device are royal jelly and queen bees (or, coincidentally, The Royal College of Art, where Neville Brody is now head of graphics), but the conceit of taking an aristocratic title is very common amongst the burglar alarm fraternity – and a theme I shall return to. • Spotted: Battersea Park Road, Wandsworth, London, SW11, England, 2002 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Battersea Regal Security Systems burglar alarm, Wandsworth, 2002
“Regal”, Wandsworth: a work by Neville Brody?

“RH Alarms”, Frome: faded felon

RH Alarms burglar alarm (faded), Frome, 2008"RH Alarms" burglar alarm (faded), Frome, 2008 • The ultimate in anonymous intruders: a burglar so bleached that only his generic silhouette remains. With a bit of tweaking in Photoshop, it is possible to discover the logo "RH Alarms" – a suitably uninformative name. • Spotted: Town centre, Frome, Somerset, BA11, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Somerton and Frome RH Alarms burglar alarm (faded), Frome, 2008
“RH Alarms”, Frome: faded felon

“Crime Stop Protected”, Birmingham: death disco

"Crime Stop Protected" burglar alarm, Birmingham, 2005 • The Mad Man burglar from IAS returns, only to be caught in a pulsating op-art circle, reminiscent of HAL's all-seeing "eye" in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's often hard to tell whether such wave visualisations represent sound or light; perhaps this is meant to conjure up both, a blaring hell of screaming sirens and strobing beams, pinning our suave criminal like a moth on a spotlight in a nightmarish 1970s disco. We can see you, Dave... • Spotted: Meriden Street, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Birmingham Ladywood
“Crime Stop Protected”, Birmingham: death disco

“Securitech”, Exeter: mime artistes beware

Securitech burglar alarm, Exeter, 2009"Securitech" burglar alarm, Exeter, 2009 • Another shadowy intruder transfixed within a piercing beam of light (see also JB-Eye), suggesting burglary by mime artiste during a nuclear blast. I'd advise using a neutron bomb, it'll eliminate the felon but leave the building intact. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there actually is a Nu-Tron burglar alarm; I'll dig it out one day soon. • Spotted: Town centre, Exeter, Devon, EX1, England, 2009 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Exeter Securitech burglar alarm, Exeter, 2009
“Securitech”, Exeter: mime artistes beware

“JB-Eye”, Manchester: Pacman eats burglar

JB-Eye burglar alarm, Manchester, 2009"JB-Eye Security Systems" burglar alarm, Manchester, 2009 • "Please, Mr Pacman, don't eat me! I don't want to be a topping on your giant cheese pizza!" This looks like a tiny, pleading figure imploring a monster Pacman not to devour him. The unusual refinement of a shadow suggests a blast of nuclear light emanating from the chomping black blob. What the title JB-Eye has to do with it all is opaque – the name of some weird Pacman religion perhaps? • Spotted: Deansgate area, Manchester, Lancashire, M1, England, 2009 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Manchester Central JB-Eye burglar alarm, Manchester, 2009
“JB-Eye”, Manchester: Pacman eats burglar

“DSA”, Bath: a bizarre Freudian slip

DSA burglar alarm, Bath, 2007"DSA Bath" burglar alarm, Bath, 2007 • At first glance I thought the creator of this otherwise basic design had included touches that were positively Freudian. A doorway with a swishy fringed curtain, conjuring up both sex shop and butcher. A prominent knob, its position implying the door is firmly shut. A shadowy figure grabbing for it: desperate for entry, or escape? A peeping-tom camera spying impassively on the proceedings. And under it all the word "Bath", suggesting a scene from Hitchock. Then I realised the boring truth: the swishy lines are meant to be waves of some kind, emanating from the boxy thing I'd assumed was a camera. What the device really is, and whether it emits sound waves, light beams, or death rays, is left to the potential intruder's imagination. But there's no fringed curtain, and no Freudian subtext. Not intentionally, anyway. • Spotted: Town centre, Bath, Avon, BA2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bath DSA burglar alarm, Bath, 2007
“DSA”, Bath: a bizarre Freudian slip

“CIA”, Emsworth: secret service snooper

CIA burglar alarm, Emsworth, 2003"CIA" burglar alarm, Emsworth, 2003 • Here's another CIA alarm, more happily composed than yesterday's diagonal effort. Apart from being placed too high up to focus on sharply, everything about CIA alarms is utterly classic: the strident colour, the tabloid typography, the furtive figure. And, of course, being named after one of the world's most notorious spy organisations. Though, assuming the real CIA is not in the UK burglar alarm business, what this memorable acronym actually stands for remains unexplained. • Spotted: Seagull Lane, Emsworth, Hampshire, PO10, England, 2003 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Havant CIA burglar alarm, Emsworth, 2003
“CIA”, Emsworth: secret service snooper

“DR Security”, Tower Hamlets: What’s up, Doc?

DR Security burglar alarm, London E2, 2007"DR Security" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets, 2007 • "Help, Doctor Security, can you make a house call? There's a huge red throbbing pimple on my roof! When you get here, just climb in through the giant No Entry sign, and mind that nasty gap in the floorboards..." • Spotted: Three Colts Lane, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow DR Security burglar alarm, London E2, 2007
“DR Security”, Tower Hamlets: What’s up, Doc?

“IAS”, Sheffield: career criminal or Mad Man?

IAS burglar alarm, Sheffield, 2010"IAS" burglar alarm, Sheffield, 2010 • Most shadowy intruders seem to be based on the same stumbling silhouette, copied with varying degrees of simplification and skill. This is a particularly extravagant one – note the stack heels, the bulky and flowing jacket, the strangely bouffant hair. He's more like an extra from Mad Men or a drunken salesman than a sneak thief – unless career criminals actually do wear formal attire. The name "IAS" is equally shadowy: an unexplained acronym, beloved of so many burglar alarm firms. Intruder Alert Systems is my guess... (googles)... blimey, it could be, but there are loads of organisations called IAS. International Accounting Standards, that must be it – it's a pretty rumpled suit. • Spotted: Fargate, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield Central IAS burglar alarm, Sheffield, 2010
“IAS”, Sheffield: career criminal or Mad Man?

“GD Security”, Kensington: mystery bulldog from 1984

GD Security burglar alarm"GD Security" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea, 2005 • Another smart royal blue silhouette, another Conservative borough: namely affluent Kensington, home to some of the most expensive property in the world, and where Madonna was burgled twice, despite having a burglar alarm. The initials are unexplained, but by having a fairly recognisable bulldog image above them, we're invited to surmise that GD stands for Guard Dog, though it could be Good Defence, General Dynamics, Gold Digger, God, or whatever you fancy. Google research suggests it doesn't actually stand for anything, but the firm was formed in 1984 – an excellent year for surveillance. • Spotted: Gloucester Road, Kensington and Chelsea, London SW7, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington GD Security burglar alarm
“GD Security”, Kensington: mystery bulldog from 1984

“Securipol”, Westminster: dodgy duo behind MI5

Securipol Systems burglar alarm"Securipol Systems" burglar alarm, City of Westminster, 2010 • I have a soft spot for silhouettes on burglar alarms, with their suggestions of shadowy activity. Despite having so little detail, they are often extremely poorly drawn, and this is no exception: note the Bunny-girl ears on the presumed Alsatian, and the awkward pose of the security guard, with his hint of jackboot on one side, and what appears to be an amputated stump or penile malformation the other. More successful is the equally bodged-up name: Securipol. It's a naive, unsubtle construction, but one with etymological power, because what instantly springs to mind? Security. Police. Loaded words with classical roots: Latin "securus" (without care) and Greek "polis" (city). It's rendered in navy and white, which also have police connotations (a trend I've noticed on other burglar alarms too), implying that somehow this potato-headed freak and his rabbit-eared mutt are state-sanctioned protectors of the national security. Appropriate then that I found this alarm in Westminster, the heart of British government, on a building situated right behind the HQ of MI5,  the UK's internal security service. Make of that what you will. • Spotted: Horseferry Road, City of Westminster, London SW1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster Securipol Systems burglar alarm
“Securipol”, Westminster: dodgy duo behind MI5