Monday, October 06, 2008

Those false burglar alarms in Draper

Interesting article today about police in Cottonwood Heights, Draper, and elsewhere having to respond to a lot of false burglar alarms. According to the article, 98 percent of burglar alarm activations are false, caused by human error, weather, pets, etc. On average, owners have one false alarm per year (according to the burglar alarm sellers; we'd like to see independent stats). Private businesses get money from selling alarms, and police get stuck responding to them.

Some cities are considering charging for the second false alarm in a year, or requiring private guards to respond first, and then, if an actual crime is occurring, the cops will come. Supposedly that would be unpopular, sayeth the alarm sellers:

According to a 2006 study sponsored by the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, that would be a bad idea. A telephone survey of Salt Lake residents found that two-thirds of voters disapprove of their city's policy and that 60 percent would vote against a candidate that supported such a rule.
The D-News didn't say how the study was worded, but one can imagine questioning a la a Utah Dem push poll: "Do you favor or oppose a rule that puts people at risk of being robbed and murdered in their own homes?"

Let's face it: If you can afford a burglar alarm system, you can probably afford to put something in the till if you waste the cops' time with two or more false alarms in one year. And if 98 percent are false, it seems to make some sense for a private guard to respond first, as Salt Lake City and West Valley require. A qualified guard could do some good in the other 2 percent in which something is actually happening.

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