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Is there a Fine for False Alarms?

The answer? Yes, most cities/towns will fine homeowners for false security alarms.

So what constitutes a “false” alarm?

Basically, a false alarm is any alarm that causes a police, fire or rescue dispatch when there is no actual emergency or criminal activity. The good news? Most cities won’t implement a fine until the 2nd or 3rd false alarm offense.

To help you avoid getting slapped with a fine, we’ll share some tips on how to prevent false alarms. First, though, let’s take a look at why most cities fine homeowners for false alarms in the first place.

Worried about false alarms? Ask our team how our video verification services can help prevent (if not completely eliminate) false alarms for good.

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Why is there a fine for false alarms?

False alarms are a huge drain on emergency personnel and budget. According to the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, in 2002, police across the US responded to approximately 36 million alarm activations, at an estimated annual cost of $1.8 billion.

To help cut down on the money wasted via false alarm calls, most counties impose fines for homeowners who cause an excessive number of false alarms in a given timeframe.

For example, the screenshot below shows how Fairfax County, in particular, handles “repeat offenders” of false home security alarm calls.

How Fairfax County handles fines for false alarms (Source)

3 tips to avoid false alarm fines

Tip #1: Know your code

As soon as an alarm is triggered, your monitoring company will call you and request the alarm code so they can verify that you’re the homeowner and that this isn’t a burglary or other emergency.

Now, if you haven’t set off your alarm in a while, it’s easy to forget your alarm code.

Our suggestion is to make sure anyone who has a key to your house has your code memorized. Make the code something easy to remember—but not something that can easily be guessed by burglars.

Pro tip: Use letters instead of numbers to create your security code. For example, the sentence, “Let Your Hair Down” is abbreviated LYHD, which corresponds with the digits 5943 on a security keyboard.

Tip #2: Beware poorly-installed products

If a certain security device was installed poorly, it could set off frequent false alarms. And if you’re not home or can’t verify with your monitoring company via phone that it’s a false alarm, emergency personnel will most likely be dispatched.

For example, a heat detector (instead of a smoke detector) installed near or above the kitchen stove will set off frequent false alarms, which could prompt a fire department dispatch.

Pro tip: If you have existing security products installed in your home, have a professional inspect the system for any improperly-installed equipment.

If you live in the Virginia area, contact Richmond Alarm and we’ll send a professional to inspect your home for any poorly-installed equipment.

Tip #3: Get smartphone control

Homeowners today can use mobile devices to remotely control their home alarm system and immediately disarm the alarm system in the event of a false alarm.

For example, if your kids accidentally trip the alarm when they come home from school, you’ll be notified immediately that an alarm was triggered. From there, you’d be able to disarm the alarm from your phone—even if you’re not at the house.

Pro tip: If you don’t already have smartphone control, make sure you upgrade your security system accordingly. We also suggest installing home security cameras so that you can check in to verify that an alarm is indeed “false”.

Want to prevent false alarms for good?

If you live in the Virginia area, contact RAC about our video verification services. Video verification reduces the risk of false alarms by sending a 10-second video clip to our monitoring station whenever an alarm is triggered.

Our monitoring specialists can then review the clip to determine whether the event is a true emergency or not before they dispatch authorities.

Video verification doesn’t just prevent false alarms, it also results in faster response time by law enforcement if/when there’s a true emergency.

To learn more about RACs video verification services, just contact us today.

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