Burglar Alarms

On the way home a few nights ago, I heard a great radio piece from American Public Radio’s Marketplace Freakonomics Radio.  They were discussing burglar alarms.  I was immediately interested because it is a vexing problem for us and for all police.  I’ve put a link to this short piece here:

When Burglar Alarms Don’t Work

I agree with what they are saying — alarms are mostly false.  Frequently caused by user error.  It is a problematic business model that depends on public services to fulfil their mission.  Here in Auburn Hills were are still able to make quick responses to alarms most of the time on both the police and fire sides.  We have not found it necessary to limit our responses or fine users or charge for response–yet.  I believe that people paying taxes still deserve those services.  I have an alarm on my house and I think it has value– I use it all the time. 

There are circumstances in which they work.  I can think of a situation where a double murder occurred at a restaurant (not in our community) that perhaps could have had a different outcome if the owner had not discontinued his alarm due to the false alarm fees.  We have responded to alarms that were robberies in progress– but not very often. 

Maybe the best solution is causing the alarm makers to make better alarms that don’t have so many false positives.  That would be a BIG step in the right direction.