AN initiative to beat the burglar will send thieves reeling - and leave them with a big headache.

For years, homeowners have been urged to protect their property. Constant nagging by police and a series of crime initiatives have paid off in Cleveland, particularly in Stockton, which recorded a 22 per cent drop in house break-ins last year.

However, it is now the thieves' turn to get an unexpected headache. Persistent housebreakers are now increasingly targeting sheds and garages for easier pickings. They steal tools and garden furniture, which can easily be sold at car boot sales.

This week, a new series of deafening alarms, specifically designed to protect such outbuildings are being offered to the public - and for the first time they are being made available by mail order, direct from the police.

Stockton crime prevention officer, Detective Constable Wallace Sayer said: "They produce 100 decibels of noise. It is so intense no one can stand more than a few seconds of it.

"They are perfect for the shed or garage and are so good the police are going to use them to protect sensitive areas in police stations."

The alarms, set and disarmed by a preselected code, are easily hidden and work from battery or mains power. They come in two sizes and cost £8 or £15. A major push to promote them in Stockton begins this week.

DC Sayer added: "They will literally send the burglar reeling because the noise is so loud and, unlike a house alarm, the thieves won't know where the device is sited. They can be hidden anywhere."

Further details about the alarms are available from Cleveland Police on (01642) 302271.