The Phoenix Police Department asserts that false alarms from security systems and cost the City of Phoenix millions of dollars in wasted time and resources. A false alarm is defined as, “any alarm caused by human error or equipment problems requiring police response, with no evidence of an actual crime having been committed.”
As it happens, sometimes Grandma hears a noise outside the front door late at night and gets scared enough to call the police. That’s the type of situation which probably can’t be avoided because we’d rather have Grandma feel safe than have her get clunked over the head by a thug who wants to fence her teacup collection.
Reasons for False Alarms
There are four situations which cause a false alarm situation. All of us have had one of these happen to us at one time or another.
- Opened the door by accident when the alarm is on
- Punched in the wrong code
- The housesitter, kids, housekeeper, or other authorized user punched in the wrong code
- A window or door was left open before arming the system
- The security monitoring company wasn’t notified to cancel the alarm
Solutions to False Alarms
There are a few things we can do to minimize these situations, such as teach people the correct procedure for setting and disarming the system, which will help keep false alarms down. It’s also best to have a set routine for checking the alarm whenever anyone opens a door or window.
One of the most important options we can take is to notify the alarm company of changes. When someone new starts using the alarm system, if the security company is notified, they can respond accordingly.
Check alarm batteries, make sure your equipment is maintained by a professional, and be alert for changes which might cause an alarm to malfunction or go off by accident.
Too Many Mistakes Will Cost You
Also, a home with a professionally monitored alarm is required to have a permit. In the absence of a permit, the homeowner will be subject to a $96 fee in the event of police response. After the second false alarm within 365 days, an owner is subject to a $96 (burglar) or $105 (fire) fee.
The City also has a false alarm prevention program for alarm users who can sign up to learn more and have one of these fees waived for attending the program.
The upshot of this is that if a person sets off their alarm too often, it’s like the little boy who cried Wolf: if an actual emergency happens, the neighbors might shrug and say, “Old Jonesy must have set off his alarm again. What’s for dinner?”
On the flip side, never be afraid to call a neighbor and say, “Hey--are you okay?” if their alarm goes off. It takes more than good fences to make good neighbors.