The High Cost of Guessing

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Across the county and in our communities, shrinking budgets have police departments facing deep cuts. This makes it more important than ever for the burglar alarm industry to recognize what false burglar alarms cost a community and take real action to reduce them.

According to the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, officers respond to more than 36 million alarm activations annually, at an estimated annual cost of $1.8 billion. As approximately 95-99% of these activations are false alarms, most of that $1.8 billion is wasted.

Beyond the financial cost, false burglar alarms stress already stretched departments:
"Responding to false alarms isn’t just a nuisance for officers, it’s a hazard for police and the public, diverting 'police officers from other useful duties.'”
"Every time two police officers respond to a false burglar alarm … means two less officers patrolling the streets and patrolling neighborhoods."

Verification of burglar alarms is one proven tool for reducing false alarms and saving money. When a security system activates, a threat can be verified by a skilled operator monitoring video or sound technology.

Many cities have tried to address this expensive issue through alarm ordinances, but with limited success. They levy fees against the business the burglar alarm is meant to protect. They establish official or unofficial "verified response" and "enhance call" policies. These efforts offer a some relief, but they don’t address the core problem: blind motion sensors can’t tell a monitoring center what’s happening.

To reduce false alarms, save money and save scarce police resources, burglar alarm companies need to change the technology they use and change how they design and monitor security systems.

Additional costs to a community from false alarms:

  • costs due to police being unavailable to respond to actual crime problems
  • personnel costs of call-takers and dispatchers
  • costs associated with call displacement, because the response to other 911 calls takes longer
  • personnel, equipment, and costs related to backup personnel
  • personnel costs associated with analyzing false alarms
  • software, hardware, office space, and equipment costs for false alarm management
  • administrative and staff costs of notifications, permitting, billing, and education programs
  • costs of developing, printing, and distributing publications to educate the public and alarm companies about false alarms