News 5 Investigates

Jun 6, 2014 1:29 PM by Eric Ross

News 5 Guardians: Woman says police never responded to burglary alarm call

The company monitoring your alarm system may be providing you with a false sense of security.
In Colorado Springs, homeowners are required to have active alarm permits on file. However, police say alarm companies are letting permits expire or failing to renew them, which could put your safety at risk.

According to Colorado Springs police, they will not respond to alarm calls that do not have active permits on file.

Jessica Stecco lives alone and relies on her alarm system to keep her safe.

"I just really wanted that security and peace of mind knowing that if anything ever happened, I would have the security system to rely on," Stecco said.

It was the middle of the day and Jessica was at work when Xfinity sent her a text message alerting her that her alarm was going off. According to Jessica, police were never dispatched. 

When Jessica asked her alarm company why, she says they gave her the run-around.

"One person was telling me I didn't have that second contact number on file," she said. "Another person said regardless somebody should have come and ultimately they said there is no permit on file and that the police will never come."

According to Colorado Springs police, officers respond to more than 5,000 alarm calls each year.

Almost all of those calls turn out to be false alarms. 

"It's a lot of manpower drained on our limited resources," Lt. Brian Ritz said.

To prevent officers from being tied up with false calls, policies were implemented that no longer require police to check out alarm calls when a permit is not registered or expired.

"It would be ideal if we could respond to every alarm call but when we talk about 98-percent of these alarms being false, that's what prompted us to start this alarm ordinance in the first place to work with the alarm companies and reduce false alarms," Ritz said.

Jessica's alarm turned out to be false, but it makes her wonder what could have happened had the threat been real.

"I've been dishing out $39.95 a month thinking that I'm safe and secure and had my life been in danger, the police never would have come," Stecco said.

Stecco says Xfinity has offered her a 5-month credit on her account for the registration error and promised to get her permit filed with the police department.

Per city ordinance, alarm companies are required to register your system within 5 days of its installation.

Your alarm permit must also be renewed yearly.

Police tell News 5 they will make an exception and respond to panic and robbery alarms manually triggered by a home or business owner.

Anyone with concerns as to whether their alarm is properly registered should contact their alarm company, not police. The police department will not tell you over the phone whether your permit is active for security reasons.

The police department provides each alarm company with a reminder notice of permits approaching renewal no later than 60 days prior to the due date. It is the alarm company's responsibility to update the account holder information and renew the permit with the city prior to the expiration date.

Frequently asked questions:

Q: How do I know whether my alarm company has registered my system with the police department?
A: In Colorado Springs, every alarm company is required by city ordinance to register your system. You should have been provided a "permit number" around the time the system was installed. If you do not have a permit on file or permit number, contact your alarm company provider.

Q: Does my permit need to be renewed?
A: Yes! You're permit must be renewed yearly. There is a renewal fee which may or may not be passed on to the consumer. Check your alarm system service contract for details.

Q: Will police really ignore my alarm system if it's not registered?
A: Yes. Unless you physically press the "panic" button on the alarm system keypad, officers will not be responding to unregistered alarm calls.

Q: Can I call the police department to see if my permit is active?
A: No. The police department will not give out any alarm-related information over the phone. Permit numbers and an expiration status can be obtained through your alarm company.

Q: Which alarm company has the most "unregistered" alarms in Colorado Springs? ]
A: The Colorado Springs Police Department says they don't track this data.

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