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Com and Co

Masco, Lambeth, 2012

“Masco” burglar alarm, Lambeth • Here it is in happier days. It’s since been removed. • Spotted: Frazier Street, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
Masco, Lambeth, 2012

Tcom, Oxford: abbreviation

Tcom "Tcom" burglar alarm, Oxford • An abbreviation for telecom, geddit? And an unexplained acronym, if it stands for anything else. • Spotted: New Road, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Oxford East
Tcom, Oxford: abbreviation

Exco, Falmouth: river

Exco "Exco" burglar alarm, Falmouth • Nice name, based on  the river Exe, I assume. There's another Exco here, with a more flamboyant logo. • Spotted: Berkeley Vale, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Truro and Falmouth
Exco, Falmouth: river

“Class Systems”, Hackney: Marxism today

Class BroadwayMkt nr E8 4PH 40431_800 "ClassSystems.co.uk" burglar alarm, Hackney • You could read this as being a classy product, but looked at another way it's almost a Marxist statement, especially in the rapidly gentrifying area of the People's Republic of Hackney where I found it - on a posh shop surrounded by not-so-posh ones. • Spotted: Broadway Market, Hackney, London, E8, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Class Systems”, Hackney: Marxism today

“Vaico International”, Tower Hamlets: global gloves

"Vaico International" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • These hands look like they're literally trying to put the world to rights on this sadly leaning sounder. There' a picture of a more recent Vaico sounder here – hands still tightly cupping their proud globe of internationalness – and the 1997-founded firm's official website is here, though it doesn't offer any explanation of the cryptic name. Globes are a very popular theme, and one I'll return to soon. These are the last disembodied hands for now: tomorrow, alarms relating to swiftness. • Spotted: Wentworth Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Vaico International”, Tower Hamlets: global gloves

“Tetco”, Tower Hamlets: corporate thrust

"Tetco" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This thrusting, self-piercing arrow is either strangely phallic or reminiscent of a devil's tail. It has a late 1980s corporate feel: something Margaret Thatcher would have approved of on a BA plane's tailfin, or the door of a privatised BT phone box. Calling your company "something-co" is equally corporate, but a risky strategy: it can sound impressive if the image is good enough, but it can also look pathetic with a shonky design. This just about falls in the former camp, so I assumed Tetco was quite a big operation. However Google only throws up a Tetco Security Systems in Deal, Kent that exists solely on business directory sites (aka business graveyards), and another registered in Cheshire that appears equally inactive. So despite its professional image and name, this firm is presumably defunct. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Tetco”, Tower Hamlets: corporate thrust

“Secom Carroll”, Lambeth: wedgie dual grille

"Secom Carroll Security Communication Systems" burglar alarm, Lambeth • And my final Carroll for now, after being taken over by Secom – which happened in 1989, according to the comment here. This is before Secom had their current logo or weird plug boxes, but it's still an unusual shape – a wedgey square with double grilles on each side. • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall
“Secom Carroll”, Lambeth: wedgie dual grille

“Secom”, Islington: dirty great plug

"Secom" burglar alarm, Islington • And after yesterday's "rebadged" Secom, here's a very dirty example of the real thing, featuring the bland "UK plug" shape usually only seen on the Japanese conglomerate's sounders and thus presumably a proprietary design (though they do use rectangular boxes too). Sometimes these deltas have neat rectangular strobes on the base as here, and that's as exciting as it gets. • Spotted: Goswell Road, Islington, London, EC1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“Secom”, Islington: dirty great plug

“Secom”, Southwark: not impersonal but inscrutable

"Secom" burglar alarm, Southwark • I've never been very interested in these polite Secom alarms – both the graphics and the name are so impersonal, like something from a Swiss clinic. Even their unique proprietary sounder, a flattish sort-of-triangle reminiscent of a clunky British electrical plug, is fundamentally boring. Having always assumed that these were the signifiers of a dull European multinational, I was surprised to discover a far more exotic provenance: for Secom are Japan's biggest, and oldest (according to them) private security firm. So, inscrutable rather than impersonal – my impressions were at least semi-correct. Founded in 1962 by Makoto Iida and Juichi Toda, Secom claim to have pioneered the "man-machine philosophy" – not, sadly, an army of tiny robots, but a combination of "highly trained personnel and high technology security equipments" (sic). They expanded in a similar manner to the classic British alarm outfits of the 60s – except, rather than being eventually absorbed by an external multinational, they did the absorption themselves, listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 1978. In 1991 they acquired the large UK firm Caroll Security Group, itself a successor to the family-owned Lodge Lock and Safe Company, founded in 1918 (I've never spotted a Lodge alarm, though Caroll's unusual round-topped boxes are still around). There are now Secom operations in 12 countries, including the USA, Australia and much of Indo-China, and I bet they use the same boring identity in every single place. Secom's Japanese website certainly uses the same colours and logo, alongside a version in Japanese script and a badly-designed tangle of cute cartoons. It's so impenetrable that I haven't been able to find any images of native Japanese Secom boxes, but I can report that they do to offer Secom food, which looks pretty revolting. • Spotted: Farnham Place, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Secom”, Southwark: not impersonal but inscrutable