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False Burglar Alarms Ring Bells With Police, Business Owners

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RALEIGH — Burglar alarms can keep you and your possessions safe, but they are becoming a nuisance for some businesses and law enforcement officials. Officers respond to thousands of calls each month. Most of the time, the calls turn out to be false alarms.

In businesses, burglar alarms are almost as common as cash registers.

A thief has not tried to break into the Atlantic Avenue Lawn and Garden Store in years, but police have made several trips here responding to burglar alarms nevertheless.

The manager says the store has had too many false alarms to count and that has the wrong kind of bells ringing. In Raleigh, businesses and residents are fined $50 after three false alarms in one year.

"I know they have to charge a fee to come out, but if it's something within the system, we kind of feel we really shouldn't have to pay," says store manager Eugene Warren.

The police department maintains that "the equipment is the owner's problem."

Most false alarms are due to equipment failure -- or people misusing the system -- and the latest records show Raleigh police officers responded to more than 20,000 false alarms through the month of August.

Police say the problem could be alleviated if businesses maintained their equipment and made sure people knew how to use it.

"It is not the city's desire to bill people for false alarms," says Raleigh Police Sgt. M.L. Smothers. "It is our desire to make these people aware there is a problem and take whatever steps are necessary to correct the problem."

Authorities say the Wake County school system is one of the most frequent offenders.


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