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Unexplained acronym

“TES Security”, Bolton: named twice

"TES Security" burglar alarm, Bolton • This is quite strange, when you deconstruct it: a portcullis with a jaunty 1960s-style monogram in the middle, with a completely different logo suspended from it by chains, perhaps because the top one isn't very legible. The one above looks a bit like a bike and suggests a balancing act, while the one below is in a font beloved of 1970s sci-fi TV shows. So, a retro-futuristic design with a superannuated phone number – but no indication of what the initials stand for, or where a portcullis might fit into the grand scheme of things. • Spotted: Marsden Road, Bolton, Lancashire, BL1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bolton North East
“TES Security”, Bolton: named twice

“MG Systems”, Glasgow: possibly a Pict

"MG Systems" burglar alarm, Glasgow • It may be slightly contentious to lump this Scottish sounder in under Roman Britain, as the Romans famously never colonised Caledonia – partly because they weren't really that keen on it, apparently. So, although this fellow looks pretty Roman to me, he could be a Pict. The lack of a leather skirt (called, unpronounceably, a "pteruges") is no proof either way, though, as legionaries favoured trousers ("braccae") in colder climes. And of course the kilt hadn't been invented yet – it was the Victorians who dreamt that particular skirt up. • Spotted: Central Station area, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G1, Scotland, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow Central
“MG Systems”, Glasgow: possibly a Pict

“SP”, East Grinstead: caring mitts

"SP" burglar alarm, East Grinstead • Poignantly faded in true seaside style, this shows a pair of sensitively-painted disembodied hands, in the manner of a Latin American devotional retablo, cupping the anonymous initials "SP" between them. It's an old alarm, and a minimal name to search on: there are quite a few SP security firms on various business directories, but I can't find one from southern England, so presumably these caring hands are defunct. • Spotted: London Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid
“SP”, East Grinstead: caring mitts

“Xtal”, Wandsworth: deprecated electronica

"Xtal" burglar alarm, Wandsworth • XTAL – what a brilliant sci-fi-sounding acronym, albeit unexplained. London's 01 area code only lasted until 1990, so unless Xtal's proprietor was deeply into avant-garde 1980s electronica, it's unlikely the firm's name was inspired by the eponymous track on Aphex Twin's 1992 debut album Selected Ambient Works 85–92. It's more likely both names refer to a different genre of electronica, namely a type of crystal oscillator sometimes notated as XTAL on electrical schematic diagrams. The term is now as deprecated is this ancient "baton" sounder's phone number, and I fear the once Wimbledon-based firm may be redundant too, for despite there being plenty of recent-looking Xtal sounders lurking around London, their website is nowhere to be found. • Spotted: Battersea Park Road, Wandsworth, London, SW11, England, 2002 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Battersea
“Xtal”, Wandsworth: deprecated electronica

“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

“ESS”, Southwark: identifying arrows

"ESS" burglar alarm, Southwark • Blimey, there are a lot of security firms called ESS. There's the long-established Essex Security Services, who I've featured four times now. Then there's ESS (Electronic & Security Services) in Northern Ireland, and ESS-Security Ltd of Leeds. But the swirly arrows in this logo point to Electronic Security Solutions of County Durham, albeit a long way from their Darlington base. Which proves the value of logos: without those identifying arrows, and the fact that ESS also picture them on their website, I'd have had no way of knowing which of the four firms was behind this sounder. • Spotted: Bermondsey Square, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“ESS”, Southwark: identifying arrows

“APT”, Herne Bay: circuit diagram

"APT" burglar alarm, Herne Bay • This has a logo of weird broken arrows which I can only assume refers to some kind of circuit diagram. Back in 2004, when I photographed this in Herne Bay, I later wandered past a junk shop which had the APT logo on its fascia. So, unless APT were combining security with a sideline in car boot sales, by that time they had either closed down or moved onwards and upwards. There's still an APT Security in Kent boasting 20 years of experience and a much smarter logo, so maybe it was the latter. • Spotted: High Street, Herne Bay, Kent, CT6, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Thanet North
“APT”, Herne Bay: circuit diagram

“Scamp Security”, Hull: odd acronym

"Scamp Security Hull" burglar alarm, Kingston upon Hull • One red arrow pointing in, three green arrows pointing out – perhaps representing a burglar being caught by three scamps. Let's face it, SCAMP is an odd acronym, but the Hull-based family firm still exists, so thanks to their website I know it stands for "Security Control, Alarm Monitoring and Patrols". Or, in full, the double-secure "Security Control, Alarm Monitoring and Patrols Security". Apparently the company was established in 1962 and changed its name to SCAMP Security in 1986, but what the original name was isn't mentioned. Doubtless it was shorter. • Spotted: Town centre, Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire, HU1, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hull West and Hessle
“Scamp Security”, Hull: odd acronym

“BAT Alarm”, Birmingham: exploding arrows

"BAT Alarm" burglar alarm, Birmingham • Robin – the Bat Alarm! Actually this belongs not to Batman but to Birmingham Alarm Technicians, whose square box was featured in the creatures theme here. My blurred shot of their delta sounder gets a showing in this arrows category thanks to – of course – its exploding arrows, which look a bit like a rotated version of the somewhat dubious "arrow cross" discussed yesterday• Spotted: Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, West Midlands, B18, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Birmingham Ladywood
“BAT Alarm”, Birmingham: exploding arrows

“CTAC”, City of Westminster: ancient artefact

"CTAC" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • The arrowhead is an ancient artefact, and an ancient symbol – examples of both have been found dating back to prehistoric times. And examples of both can be found on this burglar alarm, which was discovered above a Covent Garden restaurant, rather than the entrance to a cave. The red shapes look like actual arrowheads, of the type fired from a bow; while the blue ones are more symbolic, in the sense of indicating direction – though diverging arrows can have more sinister readings too, as I shall discuss tomorrow. What CTAC stands for is unknown – the company's website gives no clue, though it's does say it's a niche provider of high end security solutions, and a member of Westminster Group PLC. The attractive logo recalls a compass rose, so maybe one of the Cs stands for compass, and I bet AC is "access control". • Spotted: Bow Street, City of Westminster, London, WC2, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“CTAC”, City of Westminster: ancient artefact

“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

“AM Security Group”, Brighton: swelling sides

"AM Security Group" burglar alarm, Brighton • Not a super-rare case style, but unusual and striking nevertheless with its swelling sides. You see these mounted horizontally too, and with the right design and colourway such boxes can look stylish – though this isn't one of them. The busy logo manages to cram in references to time, a bit of a key at the end of the 'M', and radiating from the 'A' is a spiky circle that suggests a bandsaw or a gun sight, but is probably meant to be soundwaves. • Spotted: Old Steine, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Brighton Kemptown
“AM Security Group”, Brighton: swelling sides

“SYS”, Islington: deep pocket

"SYS" burglar alarm, Islington • An even deeper pocket than yesterday, decorated with a not-very-attractive unexplained acronym logo that's presumably meant to suggest "system". The firm's uninformative website is here and the actual sounder can be found here – this example is the only one I've come across in the flesh, so to speak. The logo is a reflected palindrome in the manner of Abba, ie it reads the same in both directions and is also physically reflected down the middle. Bizarrely, I do have an Abba alarm, which I shall post one day. • Spotted: Tollington Park, Islington, London, N4, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington North
“SYS”, Islington: deep pocket

“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

“DDD Fire & Security”, Hackney: illuminated wedge

"DDD Fire & Security" burglar alarm, Hackney • Morphing onwards from the last few days' triangles and shields, this is a flat-bottomed wedge that lights up at night. They used to be pretty rare, hence featuring here in the "uncommon shapes" category, though I fear they are swiftly becoming popular (fear, because they're impossible to photograph well when illuminated). In purely visual terms, they look quite effective and I prefer them to the chunky faceted "jewel" shapes of the last decade or so; however when I featured one recently, it met with a certain amount of derision from the commenters. As for DDD Fire & Security, they're a large Coventry-based firm who were founded in 1968, but their website gives no clue to what the memorable triple D stands for – presumably not a bra size. I've come across various "3D" firms – one stood for "Defend, Deter, Detect" – so maybe it's a variant on that, without the unhelpful connotations of coming third. • Spotted: Hewett Street, Hackney, London, EC2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“DDD Fire & Security”, Hackney: illuminated wedge

“ESS”, Tower Hamlets: bottom-lopped shield

"ESS" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Here's a rarely-seen shape that's very similar to Banham's proprietary shield, but with the crucial difference of having its bottom lopped off. Although ESS is an unexplained acronym, l happen to know that this psychedelic soundwave design belongs to Essex Security Services, who seem to regularly update their logo and sounders – not to be confused with ESS (Electronic & Security Services) in Northern Ireland, or ESS-Security Ltd of Leeds. Not the most exclusive set of initials, clearly. • Spotted: Brick Lane, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“ESS”, Tower Hamlets: bottom-lopped shield

“SAS”, Tower Hamlets: commandos on a spacecraft

"SAS Protection" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Finally, something that definitely is obsolete – NASA's recently-decommissioned Space Shuttle, the last of which, Atlantis (below), had its final flight in July 2011; the programme had been running since 1981, which is probably closer to the date of this sounder. What a Space Shuttle has got to do with the SAS, aka the British Army's crack Special Air Service corps, is anyone's guess. But if I was burgling a building and an immense orbital space vehicle bearing a payload of gun-toting, balaclava-clad commandos turned up, I'd definitely be a bit worried. • Spotted: Cambridge Heath Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow [caption id="attachment_10532" align="alignnone" width="472" caption="The last Space Shuttle, Atlantis, prepares to land – presumably not on a burglar"][/caption]
“SAS”, Tower Hamlets: commandos on a spacecraft

“AFA”, Chelsea: ancient takeover?

"AFA Burglar Alarm" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • This AFA alarm has the same phone number – CHA 2888 – as yesterday's Auto Call, and was found on the same bit of posh Chelsea wall, just round the corner from Harrods. Although like most AFA boxes it hasn't worn well, the design looks more recent than Auto Call's, so I assume AFA took them over. There's a really interesting comments thread about the company's long history below this AFA alarm, but it doesn't mention Auto Call, so if anyone knows more I'd be interested to hear it. • Spotted: Beauchamp Place, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW3, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Kensington
“AFA”, Chelsea: ancient takeover?

“ITS”, Hackney: blue crucifix

"ITS" burglar alarm, Hackney • I have come across quite a few burglar alarms that, wittingly or unwittingly, refer to Christian themes – so, as we're coming up to Christmas, now seems a good time to feature them. I don't know if this ITS monogram is intended to look like a big blue crucifix, but it certainly reads as one. The family firm behind the logo emphasise trustworthiness on their website, which explains that the acronym stands for "Integrity Technology Security". It would make a good choice for churches, so if there are any vicars reading this (unlikely, I feel), take note! • Spotted: Rivington Street, Hackney, London, E2, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“ITS”, Hackney: blue crucifix

“ICU”, Hackney: hip heptagon

"ICU" burglar alarm, Hackney • My final vision-themed "backronym" offers up the unambiguous message "I see you". It's a nice idea, although the label could equally well be a piece of conceptual street art. Note that the sounder is the first I've posted with seven equal sides – a shape known occasionally as a septagon, but more usually as a heptagon. Or in this case, a hip Hackney heptagon. Fact: its sides all meet at an angle of 128.5714286 degrees. Thank you, Wikipedia! • Spotted: Rivington Street, Hackney, London, EC2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“ICU”, Hackney: hip heptagon

“MECE”, Camden: see me

"MECE" burglar alarm, Camden • Assuming this firm isn't run by an ecstasy-chugging rapper called MC EE, the logo is intended to read "me see" – geddit? – and is thus, like yesterday's iC, a "backronym". What the letters actually stand for isn't indicated on MECE's website, though I did learn that it's a huge 18-year-old company with offices across Europe, and loads of major clients including Eurotunnel, Cambridge University and the 2012 Olympics. Which makes it odd that I've only ever come across a couple of their sounders. • Spotted: Store Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“MECE”, Camden: see me

“ASG Vision”, Bristol: flamboyant tail

"ASG Vision" (over "OS Resolution") burglar alarm, Bristol • Aha - I love a sticker, and especially a violent yellow one. Bristol seems to have a particularly thriving burglar alarm ecosystem, and here, ASG Vision have effected a brutal takeover of a hapless OS Resolution box (both firms I have come across this one time only). It's included due to the "vision" reference; what the acronym ASG refers to remains opaque, but I reckon its flamboyant tail is a very abstract eye. • Spotted: Broad Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“ASG Vision”, Bristol: flamboyant tail

“BAC”, Bristol: uninspired iris

"BAC" burglar alarm, Bristol • I like burglar alarm-hunting in the West Country, because there are so many independent firms with quirky designs. Sadly, this is one of the less inspired ones: I'm not sure if it's a letter "O" representing the iris (or perhaps a number "0", for zero crime), but I'm including it in the typographic section anyway. There's an example of BAC's current design here, which is even worse, and doesn't look like an eye any more. The firm is based in the unpreposessing yet quaintly-named suburb of Fishponds; their website gives no clue as to what BAC stands for, but I'm guessing Bristol Alarm Company. • Spotted: Exchange Avenue, St Nicholas Market, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West

“BAC”, Bristol: uninspired iris

“SM”, Bristol: strange peeper

"SM" burglar alarm, Bristol • A blank-faced box with a single black peeper – this is just strange, and like so many sounders featuring eyes, a bit creepy. The company's name is totally obscure – I'm not even sure if it's ISM (geddit), OSM, or just SM, and of course there's no clue what any of it stands for. It's probably not Sado-Masochist, so I'm guessing Security Master. • Spotted: High Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“SM”, Bristol: strange peeper

“Swat Selby”, York: digital snooping

"Swat Selby" burglar alarm, York • Another mysterious SWAT alarm, this time with a bulb and a fancier "AT" monogram than yesterday's. I've been googling SWAT and still can't find out much about them: their website is just a holding page saying "coming soon", which could date from any time in the last few years. It bears this swirly "AT" rather than yesterday's clunky effort, so maybe this is the more recent alarm, though it looks pretty ancient. I came across quite a few old SWAT sounders in York, but no new-looking ones, so whether the firm still exists I don't know. I suppose I could ring the number on their website's holding page, but I haven't reached that sorry stage yet, so restricted myself to digital snooping. On one of myriad business aggregator pages (which is where businesses go to die) SWAT turn up on there was a positive review from 2010 – possibly an insider job – saying they were a long-established family firm. I also visited their address on Google Street View, but there was no sign of them there, although as it's a multiple-occupancy business centre, that doesn't prove anything. So all I have learnt is that Selby – which I had never heard of before – has an abbey, lies beside the River Ouse, and looks as if it's falling down. • Spotted: Grape Lane, York, Yorkshire, YO1, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Swat Selby”, York: digital snooping

“Swat Selby”, York: mystery bird

"Swat Selby" burglar alarm, York • They like birds in York: yesterday a raven, today a hummingbird. Although the "SW" in "SWAT" suggests it's a swift. Or a swallow. Yes, I think it's a swallow – hovering over the badly-drawn monogram "AT" rather than a nest. In Selby. As swallows do. I wonder if SWAT is intended as a verb – as in swat all pesky burglars – or as an acronym, as in its original meaning of "Special Weapons and Tactics" (which would be rather exciting in smalltown Selby) or, more locally, "Selby's Wonderful Alarm Technologists"? All very mysterious. • Spotted: Low Petergate, York, Yorkshire, YO1, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Swat Selby”, York: mystery bird

“Pro-Sec”, Tower Hamlets: mutant gecko

"Pro-Sec" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • I found this eagle on a trendy little black-and-white-painted Lambretta dealership, where it matched quite well. Known in heraldry as a spread eagle, it's an incredibly common device despite its popularity with hawkish regimes from the Romans to the Nazis lending it militaristic and even fascist connotations. This one has been splatted by a stripey shield, and is clutching some mysterious objects in its talons. My guess is an olive branch and a quiver of arrows, but it could just as easily be a mutant gecko and a bunch of twigs. The name, Pro-Sec, is equally obscure. Presumably it stands for "professional security", but it sounds more like a painkiller. • Spotted: The Oval, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Pro-Sec”, Tower Hamlets: mutant gecko

“BBB”, Camden: to BBB or not to BBB?

"BBB Security" burglar alarm, Camden • Lisa from The Simpsons once impressed infatuated thicko Ralph Wiggum with a card reading "let's bee friends" (pictured below) – which sadly, like the hopeless Ralph, I find incredibly funny. But it doesn't get to the tragicomic nub of this sweetly silly logo, whose deceptively jolly graphics mask the spectre of death: for to be truly effective, these cheery charging arthropods must surely forfeit their lives with their stings. A profound message indeed for a burglar alarm, and one that Shakespeare might have summed up on a greetings card as "To BBB or not to BBB?" • Spotted: Great Russell Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras Above: Ralph's bee card and a real bee (photo by Thomas Tolkien)
“BBB”, Camden: to BBB or not to BBB?

“BAT”, Birmingham: bloodsucker

"BAT Alarm" burglar alarm, Birmingham • I know this acronym stands for Birmingham Alarm Technicians, because I found the head office (pictured below) – but I still prefer to think of it as representing an actual noun-type bat. Not a baseball or cricket bat, useful though they would be for the deflection of unruly interlopers; but the flying, squeaking, sharp-fanged kind. Trained squadrons of hunter vampire bats could locate swag-toting Johhny Burglar by sound alone, disorient him with their hideous flapping leathery wings, give him a nasty blood-sucking bite, and pass on a dose of rabies for good measure. Result! • Spotted: Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, West Midlands, B18, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Birmingham Ladywood Above: a real vampire bat (photo by Barry Mansell)
“BAT”, Birmingham: bloodsucker

“APE”, Bristol: hairy hominid plus cheeky fly

"APE Fire & Security" burglar alarm, Bristol • Starting today: a bonkers burglar alarm bestiary. Animals are one of the most popular themes for security firms' logos, and they're not always fierce, with at least 50 per cent ranging from from cuddly to crazy. I'll be posting, in alphabetical order, all the creatures I've found so far, excluding birds and dogs, which are so numerous they get their own categories. Thus I start with Ape (plus cheeky house fly), which combines several top security tropes in one minimalistic design: soundwaves, naive monogram, unexplained acronym, and an unfortunate connotation, as presumably it's not really meant to suggest a large hairy hominid. Given the soundwaves I'd guess it stands for something techy like Audio Protection Enterprises, and the pre-dtp logo suggests it's a long-standing firm. (Googles Ape Fire & Security). Yes, this firm is the first thing that turns up, established 1977 and still going strong with an up-to-date website. But as to what Ape – or as their blurb has it, A.P.E. – stands for, there is no mention.• Spotted: St Nicholas Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West Above: a real ape (Photo by Matthias Trautsch)
“APE”, Bristol: hairy hominid plus cheeky fly

“MR”, Islington: ultimate deterrent

"MR Security" burglar alarm, Islington • Finally, the ultimate nightmare – when pigeon spikes stop working. This row of shops was encrusted with spikes, but also with bird poo. Time to call in the hawks...  • Spotted: Stroud Green Road, Islington, London, N4, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington North Above: a hawk – the ultimate pigeon deterrent
“MR”, Islington: ultimate deterrent

“GCD”, Windsor: punk haircut

"GCD Security" burglar alarm, Windsor • This sounder looks like it's got a punk haircut, and I like the way Thunderbirds-modern Eurostile font logo matches the cobalt sky. You don't often get days like this in England – apart from the burglar alarm, the scene looks more like Florida than Windsor. The photo was taken by a very patient burglar alarm-hunting companion, who's actually more interested in Neanderthals than burglars, and tweets about our ancient ancestors here.• Spotted: Town centre, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4, England, 2009 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Windsor
“GCD”, Windsor: punk haircut

“AFA”, Birmingham: poo-brown paint

"AFA Security Systems" burglar alarm, Birmingham • A mournful corner of one of Birmingham's many surviving brutalist quarters, housing a poor old AFA alarm that's not only rusty, but effaced with poo-brown paint. Hardly worth protecting with pigeon spikes you'd think, but there they are in all their grimy glory, adding yet another layer of dolour to the scene. • Spotted: Suffolk Street Queensway, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Birmingham Ladywood
“AFA”, Birmingham: poo-brown paint

“Wakefield”, Worthing: Sleepfield, more like

"Wakefield" burglar alarm, Worthing • Sleepfield, more like: this was found in West Worthing, which is even more snorey than its dozy neighbour "main" Worthing, mobility scooter capital of the world. Back in 2003 digital cameras weren't up to much and I wasn't taking burglar alarms too seriously, hence the extreme blurriness, but you can just about make out a chain containing the initials WSS at the top. I'd like to get a better shot of this, and Google Street View, though usually a couple of years out of date, shows it as still there. So maybe I'm in luck – assuming I can be bothered to go back to Worthing. My brother (who tweets very amusingly about the underbelly of South Coast life as @LordScumland) lives there, so maybe I will. • Spotted: Tarring Road, Worthing, West Sussex, BN11, England, 2003 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Worthing West
“Wakefield”, Worthing: Sleepfield, more like

“Sovereign Security”, Frome: security cliches

"Sovereign Security" burglar alarm, Frome • Another abstract piece of chain, unless I am very much mistaken, which is also possibly intended to read as an eye. How Sovereign Security converts to the acronym SSS is unclear, but a crown would have been more appropriate, given the name's royal connotations. All in all an unconnected jumble of popular security cliches: monarchy, locksmithery, vision, and multiples of the letter S. (Acronym update: research shows that the firm started out as Sovereign Security Services, but are now known as Sovereign Fire and Security, and trade from the fascinating – to me, anyway – dockyard hinterlands beneath the M5 motorway at Avonmouth, Bristol. Of course, it's always a fair bet that an unexplained "SS" stands for "Security Systems" – on burglar alarms, at least.) • Spotted: Town centre, Frome, Somerset, BA11, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Somerton and Frome
“Sovereign Security”, Frome: security cliches

“AES”, Merton: jaunty padlock

"AES" burglar alarm, Merton • This chunky but unremarkable design has wormed its way into the Locksmithery category thanks to a jaunty padlock in the bottom right hand corner. On the company website the logo is a bit more flashy, with the padlock in photographic colour, and the letters AES inscribed on its front. But although we learn that AES is a Cheam-based family company formed in 1984, there's no explanation of what the initials actually stand for: it's just another unexplained acronym. • Spotted: Kingston Road, Merton, London, SW19, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Wimbledon
“AES”, Merton: jaunty padlock

“AK Security Systems”, Tower Hamlets: Kalashnikov

"AK Security Systems" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • AK as in the legendary AK-47 assault rifle, a weapon not unknown in these parts? Probably not, or this would have had a picture of a gun rather than two keholes (unless they're a metaphor for the keyhole surgery required to remove bullets). The idea's not as fanciful as it sounds, because there are burglar alarms alluding to shooting, which I shall feature one day – though they don't go as far as depicting actual firerarms. I shot (photographically) this somewhat blurred image in a Bethnal Green back alley  absolutely stuffed with vintage sounders, though I was actually on my way to the grittily-located Hollybush Gardens gallery. • Spotted: Pundersons Gardens, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“AK Security Systems”, Tower Hamlets: Kalashnikov

“SDT Securities”, Dorking: awkward acronym

"SDT Securities" burglar alarm, Dorking • Another alarm featuring a literal depiction of a key, this time with an awkward unexplained acronym squeezed in. I like the way the screw caps are popping off and casting their own little shadows – they look like tiny alien eyes. I featured a wide-angle shot of this device in the "Beautiful Decay" category – it's on a wire-swathed wall that's even more olde worlde than the alarm. But that's Dorking for you. • Spotted: Town centre, Dorking, Surrey, RH4, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Mole Valley
“SDT Securities”, Dorking: awkward acronym

“AFA Minerva EMI”, Lambeth: warrior woman

"AFA Minerva EMI" burglar alarm, Lambeth • This is one of only three burglar alarms I've found featuring women, the others being Siren and Liberty. Minerva was the multi-talented pan-Italian goddess of poetry, medicine, commerce, weaving, crafts, magic and music, but primarily of wisdom. Only in Rome was she considered, like her Greek prototype Athena, a goddess of war – an idea the Roman Empire exported, hence her regular appearance sporting helmet and spear, and her suitability for burglar alarms. In Britain she was conflated with Bath's local deity Sulis, and the famous thermal baths there are dedicated to her. Britain also has Western Europe's only Athena shrine remaining in situ, an extremely worn structure carved into the side of a quarry near Chester. Mythology apart, I'm interested in the big red drum, which is also associated with Thorn, on whom I wrote a corporate history here. I know Thorn were absorbed by EMI, who clearly took over AFA Minerva too. But though I've seen vintage sounders saying simply AFA, I've never seen one saying AFA Minerva without the EMI at the bottom, or a standalone Minerva alarm. I'd be interested to know some more about the histories of AFA and Minerva – perhaps one of the burglar alarm fraternity can shed some light on this. • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall Above: Images of Minerva – warlike, wise, and popular in Britain. Left: a no-nonsense, helmet-toting Minerva from the destroyed city of Herculanum, near Pompeii. Above right: head of Sulis Minerva found in 1727 in Bath, and now displayed at the Roman Baths there. Below right: Minerva's very worn-out shrine in Edgar's Field, Handbridge, near Chester.
“AFA Minerva EMI”, Lambeth: warrior woman

“IME”, Glasgow: double jeopardy

"IME" burglar alarm, Glasgow• A shop with two names and two alarms. The grey Govan Pharmacy sign, top, looks decades old and may even relate to the original use of the premises. The brash Govan Carpets sign beneath it is obviously recent, but what riches lie inside to require not one but two burglar alarms I can't imagine. I went to check them out on Google Street View (below) but came back none the wiser, except that they used to have ADT alarms. The rest of the imposing but gritty street consists mainly of closed units, bookies, alcohol establishments and a very prominent funeral parlour. • Spotted: Govan Road, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G51, Scotland, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow South West Above: the scene (shot some while back) on Google Street View – note ADT alarms and coverless bell box on the unoccupied left-hand unit
“IME”, Glasgow: double jeopardy

“CIA”, Emsworth: backyard creeper

"CIA" burglar alarm, Emsworth• A shadowy CIA intruder is creeping through the rusty debris of this harbourside back yard, bringing a splash of red to the decaying scene. I featured a close-up of this under the "Shadowy Intruders" theme a long way back, when I had no idea what the initials really stood for. Thanks to some informed comment by Paul Germaine, I can now tell you that it is Christie Intruder Alarms, founded in 1967 by husband-and-wife team Barrie and Janet Christie, and still going strong on the South Coast today. According to their excellent website, this "crooked man" logo – one of my favourites, and still in use – was designed in 1970 by Janet Christie herself. When amateur burglar alarm-spotting friends come to me with exciting alarm designs they've stumbled across, it's often this one, because it's so amusing and noticeable. • Spotted: Seagull Lane, Emsworth, Hampshire, PO10, England, 2003 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Havant
“CIA”, Emsworth: backyard creeper

“ARG Security”, Islington: bouquet of barbed wire

"ARG Security" burglar alarm, Islington • Echoing yesterday's imagery, another pointy roof decorated with barbed wire and a rusty vintage alarm, this time enlivened by a spray of weedy foliage and – for some reason – a string of giant fairy lights entangled with the wire. The building is a defunct garage, one of an ever-diminishing clutch of old-style industrial units in the rapidly gentrifying hinterland of Kings Cross. • Spotted: York Way, Islington, London, N1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“ARG Security”, Islington: bouquet of barbed wire

“WSS Alarms”, Glasgow: not the Waffen SS

"WSS Alarms" burglar alarm, Glasgow • I rather like this naive typographic design, which – presumably by accident – stands for Waffen SS and is even in a classic Nazi colourway. The thorny circle of Ws looks like a ring of razor wire protecting the SS, and – although it clearly dates from the days before the World Wide Web caught on – lends it a subliminal online feel. It also bars the logo from my "basic" category, as it requires a certain amount of graphic know-how to put type on a circle, no matter how low-tech the end result. • Spotted: Merkland Street, Partick, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G11, Scotland, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow North
“WSS Alarms”, Glasgow: not the Waffen SS

“SS Alarms”, Hull: Hitler’s evil henchmen

"SS Alarms" burglar alarm, Kingston upon Hull • Hmmm, a firm called simply SS – how cryptic. It could stand for "Steam Ship", as in Isambard Kingdom Brunel's pioneering SS Great Britain. It could stand for "Saints", as in the art-stuffed SS Giovanni e Paolo, one of Venice's finest Gothic churches. It could even, if you're a graphic designer, stand for "Same Size". But whenever I see SS on a burglar alarm, it always makes me think of the Waffen SS, as in Hitler's evil henchmen. And so although I know it probably stands for Security Systems (because SS on a burglar alarm inevitably does), the minimalist logo of SS Alarms has ended up here, in my World War II category. • Spotted: Town centre, Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire, HU1, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hull West and Hessle
“SS Alarms”, Hull: Hitler’s evil henchmen

“Home Guard Vess”, Birkenhead: roadside icons

"Home Guard Vess" burglar alarm, Birkenhead • This, like yesterday's niche, comes from a Merseyside warehouse, though across the the river in Birkenhead. I found it during a rather anal search for 1930s Mersey Tunnel vents, immense rectilinear brick structures reminiscent of neo-fascist churches (there are some excellent photos here). Of course, due to its Irish heritage, the whole Merseyside area is strongly Roman Catholic – which lends these burglar alarm niches the feel of vigilant roadside icons. • Spotted: Shore Road area, Birkenhead, Wirral, CH41, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Birkenhead
“Home Guard Vess”, Birkenhead: roadside icons

“OTS”, Tower Hamlets: an owl on a key – how sweet!

"OTS" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • A chubby owl sitting on a giant key in front of a crescent moon – how sweet is this? The initials OTS  are branded on the owl's breast and below its feet, but there's no clue as to what this unexplained acronym stands for. The firm itself is equally mysterious; all I can discover is that it was once based in the Northumberland Park area of Tottenham, London, and by the noughties had merged with a Chingford company called Davenheath. The 081 number dates it as pre-1995, and there's also a later 0181 numbered version which must be pre-2000. On this latter iteration, the key, moon and chest tattoo are gone, and the owl is simply perched on a big OTS logo. It was probably meant to look more sophisticated – but, charmingly, it still looks just as much like a children's book illustration. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“OTS”, Tower Hamlets: an owl on a key – how sweet!

“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

“ADT”, Derby: hexagons and tax barons

"ADT" burglar alarm, Derby • I've just emerged from a bout of research on my selection of "Modernist" alarm boxes – Modern, ADT, Thorn, Chubb, Capstan, Lander, Shorrock, Yale – and my head is spinning. I'd chosen them purely on design grounds, but with the exception of Capstan, they form a mind-boggling web of company takeovers, at least proving my theory that these stylish designs were created for the big boys. Security is a serious business, and this is globalism in action: the major firms are like a bunch of ever-larger Pac-Men chomping each other up from the 1900s to the present day, merging, PLC-ing and reverse-takeovering along the way, and led by figures including an emigrée philanthropist, a millionaire professor, a tax-dodging Baron, and a Croesus-salaried CEO currently in jail. Grandaddy of them all is ADT, an American firm formed in 1874, when a bunch of telegraph delivery firms incorporated as the American District Telegraph Company. By the 1960s they were a huge public concern, already operating in Britain, and in 1984 they were taken over by the Hawley Group, an acquisition vehicle run by business mogul Michael Ashcroft – aka controversial Baron Ashcroft of Belize, who was treasurer of the Conservative party while being non-domiciled in Britain and paying no UK tax. He renamed the company ADT Security Systems, registered it in tax haven Bermuda, and in 1997 sold it on to globalcorp Tyco (who make undersea cables and the like), via a reverse-takeover which gave Tyco Bermudan tax status too. At this point Tyco absorbed Modern Alarms and Thorn, and the all-conquering ADT we see here was born. Ashcroft bowed out, and in stepped CEO Leonard Kozlowski, who after trousering $81m in dodgy bonuses – some of which he allegedly spent on $6,000 shower curtains and an ice-sculpture of Michelangelo's David pissing vodka – ended up in jail from 2005 till 2022. I'm sure that nowadays everyone at Tyco and ADT is lovely and kind, and doesn't evade tax or have weeing ice-sculptures. But that's not what I'm really interested in: before I started learning all this, all I cared about was the yellow hexagonal box. So, to get back to the important stuff, it was designed by Colin Marsh for Modern Alarms to replace the round Eurobell featured yesterday, and taken on by ADT when they bought up Modern. ADT have used this so-called "nut" ever since, and they now have branches in over 50 countries, millions of customers, revenues in the billions, and – apparently – a 45 year contract to maintain the security of the British and American governments (expires 2034, so ex-CEO Len will be out of chokey by then). I don't know who Colin Marsh is, but he's obviously a talented designer: it would be nice to think he was getting a royalty for each of his ubiquitous yellow boxes. But given the lack of justice in the world – even the burglar alarm world – he probably isn't. • Spotted: Town centre, Derby, Derbyshire, DE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Derby South
“ADT”, Derby: hexagons and tax barons

“RJC”, Southwark: protozoan ambiguity

"RJC" burglar alarm, Southwark • Amazing the level of abstraction the human brain can resolve: thus I can discern that this useless silhouette is meant to represent three bells, not some form of deep-sea protozoan. The firm's title is even more cryptic: at which letter should we start? Based on western reading conventions, it could be RJC if going top to bottom and left to right, JRC if followed strictly from left to right, or RCJ if going clockwise. I've plumped for the first option, but however you decode it, what it stands for is unknown. A study in ambiguity indeed. Oh, and note the tiny flecks of green paint on its base and sides – touching evidence that it's been carefully painted around at some point (it was found in Borough Market, where bankers buy vegetables priced in gold ingots, and practically everything's painted green). • Spotted: Park Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“RJC”, Southwark: protozoan ambiguity

“DIS Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: super-naive

"DIS Alarms" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Once again a Whitechapel alarm boasting church bells, even though the inscrutable acronym DIS makes no reference to campanology. These bells are even worse than the amateur Rotring drawing on yesterday's Sound Alarm – in fact it looks as if the DIS designer has paid a red biro double homage to that hapless effort, in the manner of Andy Warhol making a multiple Marilyn. This blog is essentially an ever-growing taxonomy of burglar alarms, which means I'm assigning each design to various categories. As these are artistic rather than scientific groupings, my judgments are often subjective, and never more so than for the category "Naive". Burglar alarm design is a vernacular art, so the vast majority of logos are naive in some way (which is one of the reasons I like them); but a category which includes nearly everything isn't worth having, so I've had to work out gradations. My master database, a monster Lightroom catalogue holding a decade's worth of photos, loosely sorts them under the headings "quite naive", "very naive", and "super-naive" (I said it wasn't scientific). It's always a hard call deciding what to put where, but when you see a super-naive design you know it – and we have one here. In it goes! • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“DIS Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: super-naive

“Bels”, Tower Hamlets: form follows function

"Bels" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • A perfect example of form following function: a round case for a round bell for a company called Bels (I'll forgive that missing 'L'). Thanks to learned comments by Richard Wilson and John Durrant, I now know that these cases are called "sounders", that this particular shape is called a Eurobell, and that bells in alarms are considered very last century – which makes the bell-based relics still on display all the more charming. To deconstruct the graphics on this, one thing is puzzling me: what on earth are the funny round symbols at either end meant to be? They look a bit like screw heads, so I reckon the whole design is supposed to conjure up visions of a shiny 3D enamel nameplate. Which it doesn't. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Bels”, Tower Hamlets: form follows function

“TR Security”, Tower Hamlets: Grimm psychodrama

TR Security burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets, 2010"TR Security Alarms" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This isn't a cartoon, it's a psychodrama. It's so troubling it reminds me of a Grimm's fairy tale, or one of those scary 1960s eastern european animations so brilliantly pastiched in The Simpsons as jerky cut-price replacements for Itchy and Scratchy. Let me describe the scene. The sun is high; the shadows small. A stocky, bizarrely-dressed man with the bulbous nose of a heavy drinker sprints across a featureless wasteland. In his white-gloved, malformed hands he cradles an intricate jewelled crown, the sort normally kept in a monarch's treasury. Peering over his shoulder, masked eyes glinting, he grins triumphantly back at the victim of his crown theft: a neat suburban house. A house that is half human. A house that is sobbing. Its sides heave with emotion, its door gapes in horror, its upstairs windows have become scrunched-up eyes squeezing out huge tears. By its side sits a writhing tangle of shadows, so dark it's impossible to work out what lies within. Maybe it's the house's existential despair; maybe it's the burglar's black soul; maybe it's just a bad drawing of a bush. But the moral is clear: don't store a crown in a suburban house, and if you must, then don't leave the front door open when there's a weird-looking bloke hanging round. • Spotted: Commercial Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow TR Security burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets, 2010
“TR Security”, Tower Hamlets: Grimm psychodrama

“Tops”, Aylesbury: burglar or banker?

Tops Security Solutions burglar alarm, Aylesbury, 2010"Tops Security Solutions" burglar alarm, Aylesbury • Peer closely at this and you'll see a frowning, potato-faced fellow in an eye mask and stripey t-shirt positively pelting along beneath the logo. His defining features are a swag bag as big as he is, and a towering top hat. While it may be unusual to turn to burglar alarms for searing indictments of modern capitalism, it's hard not to see this badly-drawn chancer as a booty-laden banker or toffish politician, fleeing with the hard-earned savings of ordinary folk – a kind of reverse Robin Hood. Adding a further heady whiff of class war to this box are the police-blue colourway, the Tory constituency, and the bits of rubbish stuffed behind it. As for why the cartoon is buried under the logo, my theory is that a relative of Tops' boss did the useless cartoon, and the graphic designer hated it so much they tried to hide it. • Spotted: Kingsbury, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP20, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Aylesbury Tops Security Solutions burglar alarm, Aylesbury, 2010
“Tops”, Aylesbury: burglar or banker?

“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

“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

“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

“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?

“Masco”, Lambeth: fin-de-siecle skate-punk

Masco burglar alarm, London SE1, 2007"Masco Security Systems" burglar alarm, Lambeth, 2002 • An attractively distressed tableau from faded yet quietly groovy Lower Marsh market behind Waterloo Station (there's more about this lovely area on my other blog, Art Anorak). The box doesn't quite date from the days when William Blake lived nearby, but 01 phone codes disappeared in 1990, so no wonder it's rusty. The decorations date from around 2000, when there was a spate of artful graffiti in the area, probably related to customers of the uber-cool Cide skateshop (since closed down). The alarm itself falls into the ever-popular "unexplained acronym" category: MASCO could stand for anything, though I bet the S stands for Security – it always does. • Spotted: Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Vauxhall Masco burglar alarm, London SE1, 2007
“Masco”, Lambeth: fin-de-siecle skate-punk