Homeowners required to register alarm systems

Balto. County police try to decrease false calls

June 02, 1999|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County police will begin enforcing a new law next month requiring homeowners to register their alarm systems -- and to pay fines for repeated false alarms, authorities said yesterday.

Starting July 1, homeowners whose systems produce repeated false alarms face the possibility of fines that escalate from $50 to $1,000, county police said. Businesses have been covered by the law since December, leading to a decrease in false alarms and an increase in false-alarm calls that were canceled before police arrived.

The county law was passed after the rising popularity of alarm systems in homes and businesses brought a corresponding increase in false alarms. Law enforcement officials across the country say the false alarms -- which can be triggered by weather, pets, electronic malfunctions and human error -- pull police from crime-fighting responsibilities.

Baltimore County police received 86,000 false alarms last year, compared with about 80,000 calls about crimes, the department said.

Police said warnings will be issued for the first two false alarms, followed by a $50 fine for the third offense within a year. The fines increase for repeated violations, culminating with a $1,000 fine for the 14th offense. Failing to register the alarm can bring a $500 fine.

Police said residents with monitored systems should contact their alarm companies for registration forms. Residents with unmonitored systems should call the department's Alarm Reduction Team at 410-887-4951. No registration fee is charged.

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