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We sometimes get an interesting question about hold-up alarms. These are silent alarms for businesses that alert police something’s gone wrong. They’re usually used in case of a robbery attempt. You can locate them in places behind a counter where robbers can’t see them being triggered. Some are triggered by hand, but they might be a button at knee height, or a switch you can press with your foot. This allows you to keep your hands visible where robbers can see them, while still triggering the alarm.


To Alarm or Not to Alarm?


The interesting question we get is about the response to the hold up alarm. The alarm itself is silent, remember, so robbers aren’t tipped off that you’ve alerted authorities. That the alarm is silent keeps robbers from escalating the situation or getting angry. The question is whether police escalate the situation once they arrive. Is it better not to give any alarm and let the robbers go?


The short answer is no, it’s not better. Without authorities responding, you have very little chance of getting what was stolen from you back. But this question arises from a concern that police arriving can escalate the situation.


Police Wait for You to be Out of Harm’s Way


It’s important to know then, how exactly police are trained to respond to a robbery in progress. It’s not like the movies. They don’t stack up cars in the parking lot with guns drawn. Something like this would make the robbers themselves more prone to use violence. If that’s how it played out in the real world, we could see why people would be wary of hold-up alarms.


Police are trained to avoid escalating the situation. They’ll observe the situation until the robbers have left a location where bystanders may be at risk. They’ll avoid making their presence known. They know the point of a silent alarm is to avoid confrontation. Police don’t want to put you at risk, and they don’t want to lose the advantage of surprise.


A police response to a robbery will often center on observation, until such time as the robbers have relocated to an area where fewer people are at risk. That means police won’t barge into your store for a shootout. They’ll be patient in order to make sure you, your employees, and your customers are secure from danger, and then they’ll move on the robbers.