Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cause for alarm

...or, maybe more appropriately, cause of alarm. Here's the breakdown for the 3,514 false alarms Lincoln police officers responded to in 2007:

The "unknown" category probably skews these numbers a bit, and in reality to proportion of employee-caused false alarms is even greater. While proper installation and maintenance is certainly important, there is no substitute for good employee training.

Some of our alarmed premises seem to have chronic problems with false alarms. It's a crime in Lincoln to have more than four false alarms in a 12 month period. So far in 2008, the Home Depot on S. 70th Street leads the way, with 14 false alarms since January 1. They've been issued 48 citations for exceeding four false alarms in a 12 month period since 2005.

Circuit City with 12 false alarms so far in 2008, and a specific Wells Fargo ATM with 11, aren't far behind. The award for most improved would have to go to the Lincoln City Libraries, which, for the first time in several years, managed to stay entirely out of the top ten so far this year. Nice work LCL!


Anonymous said...

Are some of the retail false alarms more common on certain days of the week than others? It might be harder to remember a key code on Saturday or Sunday morning, if the store-opener had the "brown-bottle flu".

Remember, when changing the layout of a business (putting up or moving large promo banners and so forth), it might be a good idea to kick on the ventilation system to see if any of your fluttery stuff trips a motion sensor (and thus your alarm) when the air starts moving.

Anonymous said...

As a former member of Circuit City's management, I would advise you not to hold your breath until they fix their alarm problems.

At that store, I witnessed a member of management who was evicted from his apartment, so was sleeping in the back room, putting a piece of paper over one of the movement sensors to keep from tripping the alarm. Problem was, in his drunken stupor he forgot the hallway was also alarmed. Multiple "after hours" parties between another manager and various female employees (not his wife) were also legendary. Those couches you sit on to look at a big screen TV? You might want to look for sticky spots before you sit again.

For nine months after I quit, I was still getting calls from the alarm company because my name was not removed from the call list.

Tom Casady said...


There are significant spikes in false alarms between 6:00 AM and 8:00 AM, and between 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM. These are opening/closing business alarms. Saturday and Sunday are the leading days of the week, although the variance is small.

Anonymous said...

I understand the difficulty officers would face with alarms in the schools but wouldn't it make sense to at least have them in computer rooms or the main office. How many burglaries and what has been the total dollar loss in the schools for the last two or three years?

Tom Casady said...


Blogged on that very topic last summer. So far this year it's 13 burglaries, $18,217 theft loss, and $1,796 damage.

Anonymous said...

I spilled my pop on the stcky spot.

Anonymous said...

what juicy information anonymous 6:28! what you described sounds like an armed forces recruiting station!!


Anonymous said...

Instead of ticketing the Home Depot, why dont you tell the responding officer to let the keyholder and or managment in on the secret of the sprinkler head that the officer's keep realigning. Unless they are lying to dispatch about the reason the alarm is going off.

Seems funny you mention the alarms of Home Depot and their frequency and not the one that has caused many problems ie.. Sheels. I talked to an officer shortly after that burglary and he advised that the store had been cited many times for false alarms. He did state how many, I just dont remember the figure.

Why not assist the owners instead of waiting for the next release of guns on the street by not so wanted dealers. I would think that with all techno guys you have working for you that one of them would know something about alarms.
There are Technology grants available to Not For Profits and govt. Agencys to pay personel to assist either; other like business or even for profit types. I did this while in the employ of State of NE.
Just think how many burglaries you may: 1 solve with the alarms and associated A/V systems operating properly and: 2 how many you may deter. Seems like a win-win to me.

Get your man power paid for and drop the amount of calls thusly keeping the officers quietly parked along a busy street handing out parking tickets. Sorry, couldnt resist!

Scanner Listener

ARRRRG!!!! said...

This is the alaaaarm I use.

Anonymous said...

This got me thinking. It's probably impossible to judge what the rate of residential false alarms (avg FA per year per 1,000 systems or however you do it), since, unlike biz alarms, private residential alarms aren't required to be registered with LPD. I wondered how the rate of residential FA compared with the rate of business FA, the rates, not the total number of FA. It's probably impossible to say.

The other thing I wondered about is an auto-dialing burglar alarm system that would dial 911 (or even the non-emergency #) with an automated message that there was a burglary at such and such a location. The legality of such an autodialer seems iffy under municipal law, but I'm not sure if that just applies to 911, or all non-emergency LE numbers as well.

Tom Casady said...


You are mistaken. Scheel's has never has a false alarm citation. They've been in business here in Lincoln for 9 years, and have never hit the threshold of four false alarms in a 12 month period. They had a grand total of one alarm in the twelve months that preceded the burglary.

Although I'm certainly interested in seeing Home Depot and any other places with a false alarm problem resolve their issues, I'm not about to take responsibility for the technical work for a business that is paying thousands of dollars for alarm services to another business.


It is patently llegal for an autodialer to call any phone line terminating in the emergency communications center, which would include both the emergency (911) number and the non-emergency police/fire/sheriff number (441-6000).

I suppose if an autodialer called something like the phone on my desk or on the locker room wall, that wouldn't be a violation of this ordinance. If it started happening, I suppose we'd have to try to get the ordinance changed. I don't think we want your car calling my voicemail.

Anonymous said...

Before you hit the delete button please read your own comments to the city counsel. I have listened in on a few false alarms to the scheels store. You dont have to post this, I just wanted to set the record straight!

Scanner Listener


Anonymous said...

To correct my last post, They may not have been cited but have definatly had and hit the threshold per your own statements.

Scanner Listener

Tom Casady said...

Scanner listener:

We're picking nits here. As I correctly stated in the article from Oct. 10, 2007 and in my previous comment, Scheel's had but one false alarm in 2007, and Scheel's has never had a citation.

While it is correct that Scheel's had four alarms in 2006, the violation of Lincoln's false alarm ordinance does not apply to ALL false alarms. Alarms which are "caused by acts of God, including but not limited to extraordinary electrical storms, tornadoes, or floods" are excluded. Maybe one of those four was a thunderstorm or a strong wind? I have this vague recollection of part of the roof at Scheel's blowing off once. Am I dreaming that? Can anyone help me?

Our Records Unit handles the citations with a semi-automated process.

At any rate, Scheel's has never been a problem site for an exhorbitant false alarms.

Anonymous said...

Not trying to Pick Nits. I am just an avid listener and have a few other radio related hobbies.

I dont know about the roof blowing off as I am normally at a communications site when the nasty stuff comes.

Great blog here though! I really like reading the comments. The data you provide is very interesting and I hope you dont mind I have a link to your blog on my web site to make it easier for me to keep up on it!

Keep up the good work.

Scanner Listener.