Seattle residents are being charged by the city for “false alarm” calls after burglars actually attempted to break into their homes, KIRO 7 News reports.
KIRO 7 News reporter Amy Clancy has firsthand experience with receiving a “false alarm” fine.
When a burglar attempted to break into her Seattle home in December 2016, her alarm system went off and scared the burglar away. Police were called and told Clancy they could tell where the person had tried to pry open a window with a crowbar.
Soon after that, Clancy received a bill in the mail from her alarm company.
“Even though the police responded and said that it appears that somebody tried to break in, no police report was taken and we received a bill for a so-called false alarm,” she told KIRO Radio’s Ron and Don Show. “It’s over a hundred dollars. It’s automatically charged to your private alarm company if there is no evidence of a break-in discovered.”
False alarm: A bigger issue
Clancy worked with police to get a report filed and eventually did get her money back. But she wondered if other homeowners were dealing with similar problems.
“I filed a public disclosure request with the City of Seattle to see if there had been any other similar instances,” she said. “I got a lot of complaints. It’s happened to a lot of people.”
The fines stem from a program the City of Seattle implemented in 2004 during a time when police were responding to about 25,000 calls per year, 97 percent of which were false alarms, Clancy said.
“I totally understand the need of the Seattle Police Department to investigate real crimes in progress where people are endangered,” she said. “It’s been 14 years. The City of Seattle is growing. Property crime is a problem. What I learned by looking at these documents, in my opinion, it seems as if perhaps that program should change.”