Silence is golden as alarm is cut off

May 27, 1994|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,Sun Staff Writer

Randallstown's burglar alarm from hell finally was silenced yesterday -- after six days of nearly constant noise -- when a police officer climbed a ladder in a blinding rainstorm and snipped the wire.

A cheer erupted from a watching crowd when silence descended suddenly on the normally quiet, tree-shaded court. It was almost eerie for a few seconds.

"Thank you, Jesus," shouted Joan Sheppard, the next-door neighbor, raising her arms to the sky and ignoring the pelting rain.

Once the alarm was silenced, at 5:35 p.m., the crowd scattered quickly under the deluge and the daylong circus occasioned by the presence of television units and a rock radio station was over.

The alarm, at the home of a psychologist traveling in Indonesia, went off about 12:30 a.m. Saturday. There was a brief break later that morning when an accident on Liberty Road caused a power outage and another short break, during another outage early Tuesday.

Except for the two brief periods, the alarm had pulsed continuously, driving people out of their bedrooms to the far reaches of their homes and generally making life miserable for the neighborhood.

Exasperated to the extreme, Mrs. Sheppard spent much of yesterday at Owings Mills District Court trying to get a court order to allow police to go in and shut off the alarm.

Because the matter involved private property and there was no emergency, the County Attorney's office was called in and lawyers began working on a petition to the court.

But as the lawyers debated, the whoop-whoop-whoop of the alarm continued unrelentingly.

An employee of the psychologist was in contact with him Tuesday and he was supposed to have air-freighted a house key back to her from Asia.

When the key didn't arrive, however, police contacted the woman again and she agreed to act as the homeowner's agent.

She gave Lt. J.A. Spiroff, assistant commander at the Woodlawn Police Precinct, permission to do what had to be done.

Just as the lieutenant signaled his men, the skies opened up. As one officer steadied the waiting ladder, the second climbed to roof level, pulled loose some siding and cut the wire.

The officers, who work undercover, declined to identify themselves but said they knew just about where to look for the wire from the placement of the alarm.

"I just pulled every wire I could reach," the snipper said.

Lieutenant Spiroff said police will research the incident to see what charges -- probably causing a public nuisance -- might be lodged against the psychologist once he returns to Randallstown.

Several neighbors among those standing around waiting and hoping the police would be able to silence the alarm said they had reached the point that they were ready to do it themselves rather than endure another night of the incessant noise.

Joyce Walker, who lives two doors from the house, said she hadn't slept much since the ordeal began and her three children, aged 8 to 16, started looking "for other places to go after school."

Before the wire was snipped, Ms. Walker said she was even willing to put up with yesterday's circus if it meant "the alarm will stop."

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