Setting off a False Alarm Can Cost You

If you have a home alarm system, you may be guilty of setting it off accidentally. Sometimes we open a door or window that sets it off, while other times we mess up the secret code. The result of this mishap is usually a very loud siren and the attention of your neighbors. If you don’t call to cancel in time, then it results in law enforcement showing up.

We’re all familiar with the boy who cried wolf. The protagonist of the fable is a bored shepherd boy who entertained himself by calling out “Wolf!” Nearby villagers who came to his rescue found that the alarms were false and that they had wasted their time. When the boy was actually confronted by a wolf, the villagers didn’t believe his cries for help, and the wolf ate the flock (and, in some versions, the boy).

Accidentally setting off an alarm can cost you in much the same manner.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that “The Santa Fe Police Department has netted nearly $500,000 from false-alarm fines and registration fees since the program began in 2010, a report says. At the same time, a business called CryWolf earned more than $271,000 from city residents and businesses for administering the program, a 32 percent fee it takes off the top of collections.”

I’m just as guilty as anyone of setting off a false alarm. But I’ve never had law enforcement show up to my home as a result.

To protect yourself against false alarms, follow these four simple tips:

  1. Have your service provider set up your alarm system to call your mobile phone first, then your home phone second. If you don’t answer the phone, then they will call the police.
  2. Program your mobile phone with your alarm service provider’s number and call them the second you falsely set off your alarm. Memorize your PIN so you aren’t fumbling for it.
  3. Don’t carry your PIN in your wallet. If your wallet is lost or stolen, your address and alarm PIN are in the hands of a stranger.
  4. Whenever setting up access for anyone to enter your home while you’re away, your risk for false alarms goes up dramatically. Provide specific hands-on instruction on how to disable and reset the alarm. Telling someone over the phone how to do it is often insufficient.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.