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 WESTVILLE COMMUNITY POLICING FORUM 
Article033 - False Alarms 
Interesting discussion on so called false alarms with security systems. 31 August 2011

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In a crime meeting today, the regional Manager for Blue Security brought up an interesting point that needs examination and discussion. He said that in one week his response officers had attended at least 27 alarm calls that clearly appeared to be housebreaking attempts that had been aborted. Letís look first at why they might have stopped. The most likely reason could be that they had been disturbed or believed they had been seen and then aborted. They could also have simply been stopped as they didnít do their recon work well enough and were halted by the preventative measures in place such as well-fitted burglar guards or security doors. Another reason could be that the suspects were inexperienced and this could have led to any of the above combined.
A thought in your head might be ďWhat if they come back?Ē If I had one cent for every time Iíve heard that question. In the case of your home security being air tight, the likelihood of ďthemĒ returning is slim. If they do, it will be with better tools or when you are at your weakest. If you donít know when that is, you better work it out. If the suspects were disturbed, take that as a good sign. It means that either your neighbors are alert or the alarm company or Police response was up to scratch. Nothing makes your stomach go into a knot like the sound of a siren approaching when you know you are doing something wrong! There is another reason there might have been a false alarm or aborted attempt. The suspects may have done this deliberately. Touch off the alarm and everyone comes running, sees it is false and goes away again, blaming the wind, the cat, bad technology. So ten minutes later, there may be a bit of hesitation on anybodyís part when the alarm is triggered again, this time for real. The suspects may have gained that extra precious minute to do what they have to and get away. How many times have we muttered under our breath over that one particular neighbor whose alarm always goes off at three on a Saturday afternoon? Who says the crooks scoping the area donít know that too, or hear it via the grape vine? Blue Security have informed us that they have had a number of cases where response officers have attended a false alarm and minutes later attended the real thing at the same address. 
Before you throw your hands up in exasperation, letís look at some positive things to help avoid this. Firstly, when last did you have your alarm system checked by a technician from the company? False alarms can be caused by a myriad of faults from perimeter beams picking up your dog to dampness in the wiring. Then, have a critical look at your entire system. Are you going to pay for an upgrade because a company rep has made you paranoid by quoting made up crime stats or have you found a real void and decide that needs attention? What other means are there to secure your house? Did you go through the usual checklist of Doberman, spikes, and alarm, TrellidorÖ? But I suppose you still have that pathetic little burglar guard on the toilet window with 2cm screws sunk in a wooden frame. Your safe with your precious things is still in the back of your clothes cupboard. Your wifeís jewelry is still in the dresser drawer. Determined criminals can and do get past alarms and dogs and razor wire every day. You need to look at the extra precautions, and Iím not talking about thousands of Rands in security upgrades. Common sense is free, so is a bit of advice from a trusted policeman or friend with the right contacts or experience. For something to be reliable, it has to work every time it is needed. Your system as a whole can fail because of one area of neglect or one moment of complacency. 
Donít let it happen to you. Take every alarm as serious and if there has been an attempt on hour house, call the POLICE and let us register a case. Iíve said this ad nauseum, weíre not psychic. If you donít tell us, how are we supposed to do anything about it?

Sgt Stephen Clark
SAPS Westville
Communications
Social Crime Prevention