Why security alarms are causing concern for police

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Security alarms are designed to detect intruders. But that's not always the case.

"A battery was off in one of the sensors so it would set it off randomly," says Elizabeth Fee who works at Red Wing Shoes.

That problem was quickly fixed at the story. It doesn't seem like a lot of damage, but it's costly for police. And when repeated often, it becomes a major problem for tax payers.

"That's roughly $300,000 plus a year that is spent in man hours handling false alarms," says Major John Cato of the Independence Police Department.

Cato proposed an ordinance to help curb the false alarms. Last year there were 4,500 alarms and only 300 of those were real.

"Which is barely two percent. That's a pretty staggering number of false alarms in comparison," he says.

This year, there are already nearly 2,100 alarm calls. Police were dispatched to each one and found 100 to be real alarms.

So Cato proposed a steeper fine for false alarms. Right now you get two free, any additional costs $25. He says the cost should increase according to repeat offenses from $30 up to $100.

Cato also suggests the help of an alarm management company. He says that will help repeat offenders identify the problem and find solutions to fix it.

He says it will be a seamless transition that will not cost the city or tax payers any money.

"You just have the revenue split with the city, police department, or the alarm user at home. They're not out any additional funds," Cato says.

A false alarm can be triggered by not securing doors or windows properly. And mostly happens, Cato says, at a business right before closing time.

Tips to preventing false alarms:

- Choose the right home security
- Learn the system and teach others how to use it
- Perform maintenance, make sure batteries don't need to be replaced
- Spray insect repellent around motion sensors and detectors twice a year
- Make sure monitoring companies have current contact information

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