If I walk out on the sidewalk at 3 AM with a megaphone and start howling "woop woop woop", or yammering "Ger urwur frerm ther carr!" at the top of my lungs in a faux-authoritative voice, somebody will call the police, and in short order I'll be wrestled to the ground by Cambridge's Finest. Or by the cops, if they get there first.

Yet if I install a machine in my car that does the same damned thing, repeating itself with maddening precision for an hour or more, if I go out and install a device which has no other purpose than to wake and infuriate my neighbors in the middle of the night, if I do this, nobody does a damn thing about it.

Why is that? Can somebody explain this to me?

Car alarms do not deter theft, because nobody pays any damn attention. They go off when a cat walks under the car. They go off when the wind blows a leaf against the window. Have we heard the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf? Yes, we have. These things are totally useless for their alleged purpose.

I say "alleged" because that's what I mean. Personally, I think people get those damned things out of a passive aggressive urge to annoy people. They know they can get away with it if they do it by proxy with a gadget in their car. Pissed off at your boss? Take it out on the whole damned neighborhood! Brilliant.

The fact is that car alarms are a public nuisance with no redeeming value at all. None, not a trace.

But what's to be done? If I play my guitar loud enough to wake the dead in the middle of the night, the neighbors know who to talk to: They follow their ears, bang on my door, threaten me, etc. No problem. But a car alarm has the marvelous property of doing its evil work far from where I lie sleeping. This makes the whole thing more complicated, at least under present law.

The law's the thing, isn't it? Oh, but you say that more laws never solve problems! That may be so, but you haven't heard my law yet, have you? All we need to do is just relax, ever so slightly, the law against leaving one's apartment at 3:00 AM with a sledgehammer in hand and a murderous gleam in one's eye and pounding the living hell out of some asshole's Buick. If I were to attach a tape recorder to a megaphone and leave it on the sidewalk at 3:00 AM waking the dead, would the cops object if it got stomped? I doubt it. All we need to do is establish the fact that the public has a right to overcome a few obstacles (e.g. the windows, grille, hood, hubcaps, roof, and upholstery of the above Buick) in the course of putting an end to the nuisance.

Imagine the joy in the hearts of the honest citizens of your town as they pour out of their homes in the middle of the night, hefting bats, crowbars, and hammers! It would be like a little impromptu block party when it was least expected! What a nice surprise! Neighbors would get to know each other. Friends would be made.

It would be horribly unconstitutional to ban car alarms, naturally. There's nothing intrinsically odious about them, because they needn't be turned on. It is important to handle this in a reasonable way.

Wintersweet informs me that many US cities are willing to enforce noise ordinances on car alarm offenders. Man, that takes all the fun out of it. :(

As everybody knows, wharfinger is correct when he states that car alarms have been reduced to a public nuisance from whatever practical good they might once have served, due to their 99 and 44/100% rate of false alarms.

In fact, if you or anyone you know has ever witnessed
a car alarm activating because of an attempted break-in,
please call the California Milk Advisory Board so they
can remove your picture from all the milk cartons.

But if it helps assuage your guilt at never even trying to address the situation in a civic manner, take my experience to heart.

I did, in fact, once call the police. There was a car parked on the street in front of my apartment, which activated its alarm every day (amazingly, at about the same time -- 2 to 3 in the afternoon, which is at least better than 2 to 3 en la madrugada). It would wail for at least half an hour; I never was able to see if it stopped just because, or if the owner appeared and took care of it. I didn't know whose car it was, so I couldn't address em directly.

So, I called the police one afternoon. Eventually, a patrol car appeared (of course, the universe conspired against me, and the alarm stopped while I was on the phone), and the following conversation transpired.

I: Hello. This car's alarm goes off everyday in the afternoon, and continues for quite some time. What can we do about that?
Mr. Policeman: It's not a problem now...
I: Yes, I know. But it was when I called you, and it happens every day. Don't we have any recourse?
Mr. Policeman: Well, I can issue a citation if it continues excessively, which I think means for forty-five minutes. But I'd have to sit here and observe it for that entire time, and I'm not going to do that.

That was that. This was several years ago, in Santa Barbara. So, here at least, it seems that wharfinger's solution may be optimal.

It occurs to me that there is another solution: it would be possible to construct a device that envelops the car and generates sound waves that cause perfect destructive interference, thereby nullifying the sound. But, IMHO we are not obligated to such extremes, and even though, as a libertarian I am sworn not to initiate violence, I say,

Let's whack the damn things!

Especially the ones that cycle through the eight different types of wail. You know the ones I mean...

Hey Hey Hey !!! Stop giving everyone ideas people !!

I happen to own a rather sensitive car. And it is a sporty convertible you see so it becomes rather necessary to not get rid of the alarm altogether (Screw the security, my car insurance rates will kill me if I do)

This thing used to blare off randomly at times when it detected a leaf caught in the itsy bitsy space left in the window or feels a slight shock due to God knows what.

When I had just bought it, I had a real tough time. It'd start blaring at 2:00 in the night. At that time I lived on a third floor in an apartment complex and my car parking was at ground floor. Even then, I could hear its sirens. (Imagine the plight of guys living on second floor). And so I used to run down in my sleep all somnambulistic with the car remote to shut the damn thing off and check if everything is all right.

I decided I should find out what's really wrong with this thing before someone attempts physical damage to me or my car. To start with, I started to just door lock my car in the nights and not turn the theft detection on. I found that my parking location is just next to the elevator exit from the parking. If someone would open this door with force there'll be a measurable force of air that'd upset my car (specially its top). I tested it a couple of times to find that this indeed is one of the problems. I also saw that due to the way windows are closed in soft top cars, there is always a slight possibility that a gap would remain between the rear and front side window glasses.

So I started to follow the practice where I'd first open a door, wind its windows up and then close the door back everytime I was rolling the windows up. This prevents the gaps. I also requested the apartment office to give me a different parking spot.

Since then this thing never went off in that parking lot.

It still goes off randomly every once in a while but if I'm at an earshot, I don't waste a second and run to it to turn it off and check all the windows.


So what's my point? The Solution begins at home. Everyone who owns a car with alarms should make sure (s)he's not taking the alarms lightly.

And if we find someone's car annoying us Big Time, please please first of all use a sticky note or something to post a message on his car so that the person becomes conscious of the problem and tried to attend to it. Believe me, to a lot of people, including me - this is as loud and clear as a foamed or painted message on the hood, and saves the annoyed person a potential arrest too.

Just my 2 cents.

Solution to car alarm problem

  • 1 brick
  • 1 piece paper
  • 1 pen
  1. Using pen, write "Next time, it goes through the window," on paper.
  2. Bring paper to offending car and place above driver's door.
  3. Set brick on top of paper.
  4. Leave.
No one gets hurt, no property is damaged, and you can be damn sure the owner is going to do something to fix the problem. Plus I think it's pretty funny. Feel free to use your own creative messages.

(this writeup was moved from The Car Alarm Problem, and how to solve it)

Most people I know who have car alarms don't have them to deter theft.

I have seen young women in the giant parking lot at my workplace coming out at night to a dead battery because their alarm was going off all afternoon (there is no way to hear the alarm from their location and security ignores them). I've seen the same angry man running out to his sports car in the middle of the night yelling and swearing. When asked, they say they aren't that concerned about theft. They have the alarm in the car because it provides them with an insurance discount and the insurance company often tells them they must have the alarm turned on or they will be liable and could forfeit coverage.

Does the insurance company believe that the use of a car alarm deters theft? Not really. They are lobbied by the manufacturers of the alarms to offer a coverage discount so that the alarm manufacturers can sell their product. Deals are made. Handshakes are enjoyed. Leasing companies and banks get in on the action, often requiring that an alarm be installed and kept active to "insure the safety and security" of what is essentially their property. A farce is propagated.

In many cases it is the consumer who is under attack. How to solve the problem? First, work to get rid of the so called "shake" alarms that go off whenever a strong wind comes into contact with the vehicle. These are the primary offenders, waking people in the night and going off all afternoon when the owner is away. Then work to promote the use of silent alarms and tracking devices that provide greater security rather than inconvenience and annoyance. Someone is going to want to continue getting those kickbacks. You'll never change that about the American Way of Life without having a much needed and extremely bloody revolution first. Millions will die and the death toll will surpass that of the American Civil War within the first two months of conflict, most of which will be centered in "America's Dairyland," but will infect small towns and big cities on a widespread level.

Noise pollution and general apathy is the problem here. Silence these alarms through a change in the system. Educate the people and fight the system. Or, as you can see, lives will be lost and property will be destroyed on a level not seen since the events depicted in Revelations happened in 1973.

Of course, the breed of sub-human life that pulls up in front of someone's home and honks the horn...
That is a completely different story.
A death sentence is not going too far for these imbeciles.
Get your lazy ass out from behind the wheel and go ring the bell.

An almost ridiculously easy way to silence a car alarm that does not involve being inherently evil or threatening.

If you have a few burly friends with you, a very easy way to shut the offending alarm off is to simply lift the back end of the car off of the ground until the noise ceases. The car alarm thinks the automobile it's protecting is being towed away, and thankfully, alarms are made to shut off once this happy event occurs. And you don't have to get ticketed or arrested for lobbing bricks or otherwise hurting someone's poor car (though you can give the auto in question a nice hard drop on the ground, if you feel so inclined -- no pun intended).

Another easy way to silence car alarms without being strong!
Or: Yet another use for a Leatherman SuperTool.

Simple, effective, harmless, and probably illegal way to get a car alarm to stop.

1. Note car alarm blaring nonstop.
2. Have Leatherman (or some sort of other device with needlenose pliers) in hand.
3. Look through radiator grille of car, underneath hood latch - note position of wire leading from latch.
4. Grab wire with needlenose pliers, and twist till you hear that familiar clunk. DO NOT DAMAGE THE RADIATOR GRILLE IN THE PROCESS!.
5. Unlatch the part of the hood that one must open by hand.
6. Open hood.
7. Prop up hood.
8. Use Leatherman to unscrew nuts holding wires onto battery.
9. Remove wires from battery. Car alarm will cease to go off - no power = no alarm.
10. Close hood. Leave appropriate note.

Yes, this works. Fast, simple, without the use of the police and without you going crazy. It can be done in two or three minutes, plus time to write the note, informing them why their car won't start. No harm done, and problem solved.

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