Rely on my Car Alarm for Self Defense? No Thanks

I recently received the following self defense suggestion via email from a relative, which advocates the use of a car alarm to scare away criminals who are breaking into one’s home.  While I love the relative dearly, I’m going to have to pass on her advice:

Tell your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your parents your Dr’s office, the check-out girl at the market, everyone you run across.

Put your car keys beside your bed at night. If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies.

This tip came from a neighborhood watch coordinator. Next time you come home for the night and you start to put your keys away, think of this:

It’s a security alarm system that you probably already have and requires no installation. Test it. It will go off from most everywhere inside your house and will keep honking until your battery runs down or until you reset it with the button on the key fob chain. It works if you park in your driveway or garage If your car alarm goes off when someone is trying to break into your house, odds are the burglar rapist won’t stick around… After a few seconds all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to see who is out there and sure enough the criminal won’t want that. And remember to carry your keys while walking to your car in a parking lot. The alarm can work the same way there ….. This is something that should really be shared with everyone. Maybe it could save a life or a sexual abuse crime.

I think it is fantastic.. Would also be useful for any emergency, such as a heart attack, where you can’t reach a phone. My Mom has suggested to my Dad that he carry his car keys with him in case he falls outside and she doesn’t hear him. He can activate the car alarm and then she’ll know there’s a problem..

Right off the bat, I would like to point out that noisemakers and even home security systems do not reliably scare criminals away.  Car alarms, which we all hear set off by accident every day, are even less likely to scare away an attacker.  This is especially true since while home security systems may automatically dispatch the police and may be impossible to turn off after a set amount of time, car alarms dispatch no one, and can be easily turned off with the press of a button.

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Therefore, for this self defense suggestion to work, the following things would all have to happen:

  • The victim would need to grab their car keys, set off the alarm, and hope that the criminal doesn’t grab the keys and push a button to just turn off the alarm.
  • The victim would have to hope that the car alarm continues to sound indefinitely, rather than turning off after some period of time.
  • The victim would have to hope that someone hears the alarm then calls the police.
  • The victim would have to hope that the police arrive in a timely manner to investigate
  • The victim would have to hope that the police deduce that the car alarm didn’t relate to an attempted theft from the vehicle, but instead related to an attack upon a victim inside the house.
  • The victim would have to hope that all of the above happened quickly enough to that the criminal is unable to complete their attack.

I have serious doubts as to each of these above items, and really can’t see all of them occurring in just the right way to save a victim.  The time spent grabbing the car keys and setting off the alarm would be much better spent grabbing a self defense gun, or even calling 911.  Also, the criminal may simply demand that the victim turn off the alarm.

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I also doubt that the car alarm would continue to sound indefinitely.  The various car alarms that I’ve had all turned off after a set period of time, likely to avoid annoying the neighbors when the alarm is inadvertently triggered.

Similarly, I don’t see one’s neighbors calling the police to report that a car alarm is going off.  Car alarms are set off accidentally all the time, and I have a hard time remembering a week in which I haven’t heard several alarms blaring.

If neighbors do call the police about the alarm, it will likely be as a noise complaint, or possibly to notify the police of a suspected automobile burglary.  Whether it is a noise complaint, or even a report of possible theft from the vehicle, the police don’t tend to respond to such calls in a hurry.  Given the fact that calling 911 to report a violent home invader takes minutes at best and sometimes much longer to get help, I don’t see the police arriving in time when it comes to a relatively minor call about a car alarm.

Assuming that the police arrive, I doubt they would figure out that the car alarm is really a call for help on the part of someone in the home.  I find it much more likely that the police would assume the car alarm was accidentally triggered, or related to an attempted theft from the car, and then leave.

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Even assuming that everything above worked out in the best way possible for the victim, and the police realize that the car alarm was set off by a victim in need of help, I doubt that the police would manage to do all of this in time to help the victim.  During a violent home invasion, seconds count, while minutes might as well be an eternity.

A better option: armed self defense

Instead of hoping that a car alarm may lead one’s neighbors to call the police, and that the police will figure out that the car alarm was really a cry for help from within the house, I have a better idea – armed self defense.  A gun allows a citizen to reliably and immediately save themselves, preventing the criminal from inflicting terrible harms.  This man was able to use his handgun to fend off an armed home invader who broke in, and then order the man to turn off his home security alarm.  This woman used her handgun to defend herself, her mother, and her boyfriend from a pair of armed and violent home invaders.  This man used his handgun to scare off two home invaders.  This man used his handgun to saved his mother-in-law from a home invaders, after 911 failed to answer the woman’s calls for help.  This woman used a shotgun to stop a rapist from raping her for a second time that week.  These are just a few examples of the 2.5 million defense gun uses that occur each year in the United States.

Car alarms are a good option when it comes to deterring theft from one’s vehicle, but when it comes to one’s life, a gun is a much better option.