Berndt Schleifer of Northern California was recently fined $84 for a false alarm at his home. What made this story newsworthy, however, is that this event was the first false alarm his security system had ever offered in 19 years. That’s a pretty stiff penalty to pay for a single alarm mishap, but, luckily, his alarm monitoring company (who called the police when they were unable to reach the homeowner) was kind enough and pay the amount on his behalf. Still, I can understand his anger at even being fined in the first place.
This story left me wondering how many other police departments have similar rules in effect and how many homeowners are aware of them (this guy wasn’t). Do you know how many false alarms can occur at your house before you are fined? Do you know what the exact fine amount is? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, now is as good a time as any to call and find out, don’t you think?
What Were His Options?
Making the point that the police can’t be everywhere at once, Schleifer has taken special precautions to protect his home against intruders. Not only does he have a security alarm installed, but also glass break sensors and surveillance cameras, which are positioned around his home’s perimeter. He has also taken the time to hire a monitoring company to keep watch over his security whether he is at home or away. While the police are always on-call to protect and to serve 24/7, Schleifer understands that, realistically, he is the first and best defender of his castle. Everyone could stand to take a few notes from this guy because when it comes to home security, he more than gets it.
Upon reading his story and the efforts that he’s successfully taken in protecting his home for nearly 20 years, there’s only one thing that I can see that he could have done differently and which could have spared him this aggravation. Schleifer could have checked all of his sensors to assure that they were working properly. See, it was a glass sensor which mistakenly triggered the alarm while he was away. This is not to suggest that he wasn’t properly maintaining his system, just a suggestion to those of you reading this to be aware of in the future.
False Alarms Are Preventable
Homeowners sometimes avoid arming their home security systems due to problems with false alarms. We’ve discussed as much on this blog before, but from time-to-time we like to remind you that false alarms are completely preventable. Often, false alarms are caused by one or more of the following:
● An improper installation
● Loose door or window sensors
● Batteries that need replacing
● Human error
If you haven’t already done so, we encourage you to read our previous post on this issue entitled: Is Your False Alarm Trying to Tell You Something?
Alarm Monitoring Can Prevent Fines
Even though Schleifer’s monitoring company were the ones to call the police about his false alarm, readers should take note that monitors also called the homeowner first and even attempted to call neighbors to determine if the alarm was false or if there was a real break-in in progress. The police were called as a last resort. Had they been able to reach him, Schleifer could have remotely disarmed the alarm and the ordeal could have ended there. This is assuming, of course, that he had an alarm system with remote capabilities like, the Honeywell Vista 20P Security System Kit.
Monitoring an alarm that can be remotely operated, not only gives homeowners an additional layer of protection against burglars, but can also help in preventing hefty fines.
What Does a False Alarm Cost In Your Neck Of the Woods?
Seriously, we want to know. If you don’t know offhand, please take a moment to inquire with your local police department about false alarm fines and how many false alarms can take place at a residence before a fine is assessed. Please, use the space below to share what you learn about fines in your area.
Tell Us What You Think
We’d also like to know what you think about Schleifer’s incident. Do you think that the alarm monitoring company should have called the police? Do you think that the fine for a first-time false alarm was justified? Do you think that the fine should have been paid by the monitoring company or should the homeowner have been the one to cough up the penalty? Further, besides checking the reliability of his sensors, what could Schleifer have done differently to avoid the false alarm in the first place?
And, lastly, do you have any false alarm stories to share? If so, the floor is now yours and we look forward to hearing your thoughts.