His alarm silenced, he offers an apology

May 31, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

Jeffrey Klein has a message for his Randallstown neighbors: He is sorry. Really, really sorry.

In fact, he was so sorry -- and nervous about his homecoming yesterday evening -- that he called a reporter, unsolicited, from Detroit while waiting to board a plane home.

Mr. Klein, you see, is the owner of the burglar alarm that rang for six straight days -- before being cut off on Friday -- while he was on vacation in Malaysia and Indonesia. His neighbors' suffering received extensive media attention.

"I hear that people are very angry," said an apologetic Mr. Klein, who arrived home at about 10:30 last night -- three hours later than expected because of flight delays.

"I feel like I'm going to be tarred and feathered."

Indeed, his neighbors are not happy. Several taped a note listing their grievances to his storm door. His next-door neighbor, Joan Sheppard, went to court Thursday in an attempt to get a court order to have police shut the alarm off.

Mr. Klein arrived home too late to see any of his neighbors last night, but he wants them to know he did everything he could, once he knew the alarm was ringing, to get it shut off.

"As soon as I was contacted, I gave permission to have a locksmith open up the door," he said. "No locksmith was willing to take that liability, because they were afraid of a lawsuit."

Then he tried to have his house key delivered by air freight to a friend who knows the security code to the burglar alarm.

"At that point I was in Indonesia, and the hotel said it would get there in a day or two at the most, and they never arrived," he said. The friend still hasn't received it.

Finally, when the key didn't arrive, Baltimore County police contacted the friend and she agreed to act as Mr. Klein's agent, giving the police permission to cut the wire.

"The thing people don't know is I did try all these things to try and get the alarm cut off," Mr. Klein said. "I was willing to pay hundreds of dollars to have keys made so they could get into my house, and apparently they were unwilling."

"I really do apologize," he said. "I really did do everything in my power from abroad."

If it's any comfort to his neighbors, Mr. Klein said he wasn't having a good time during all this either.

"This was the worst vacation I've ever had," he said. "I was being awakened at 3 in the morning with long-distance calls."

And now, the worst part is coming home and facing his angry neighbors. Mr. Klein said he had more that 50 messages on his answering machine when he walked into his house, some of them quite nasty.

"I had this vision of these lynch mobs when I came back," he said. "I already have many bills accrued trying to deal with this thing from abroad. But obviously, I didn't intend to leave my neighbors in the lurch.

"I've gone away many times over the past few years and this has never happened," said Mr. Klein, adding that he has had the professionally installed alarm for 10 years.

"In the future I would take precautions to make sure this would never happen again," he said.

But he is going to have a hard sell with Ms. Sheppard.

"That's not doing me any good. He hasn't apologized to me," she said last night when informed of Mr. Klein's comments. "I have pain in my head, pain in my ears. . . . What he told you doesn't do me any good."

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