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Most insurance companies will give you a discount if your car is equipped with a burglar-alarm system. Generally it's 10% off the premium-each year or sometimes a little bit more if you have a clean driving record for at least three years.

Do not put out a sticker in the car window announcing to the world what type of burglar-alarm system you have. Most experts feel that this removes the element of suprise and can even help the theif.

Cheap alarms provide little more than a false sense of security for a car owner. A good thief will know the difference.

The features of a good alarm system:

Passively armed. That is, it should be require nothing more of the driver than shutting off the motor and removing the ignition key, without complicated setup procedures.

Instant "on" at all openings. That means the alarm should trigger as soon as any door, the hood or the trunk is opened.

Remotely disarmed by a code, instead of by means of a switch or a key. A lock can be picked. A code is harder to break.

Hood lock. Denying a thief access to your engine, battery and siren is a major deterrent.

Back-up battery to prevent a thief from crawling under your car, cutting the car's main battery and killing the engine's electrical system, and, therefore, the alarm system.

Motion detector. The best kinds are the electronic motion detectors that sense the car's spatial attitude at the time the alarm is armed: whether it's on a hill, on uneven ground, etc, (Also least prone to false alarms)

Extras: pressure-sensitive pads in the seats and under carpeting. Glass breakage detectors. Paging systems and air horns. Wheels locks if you own expensive optional wheels.