How To Prevent & Avoid False Alarm Fines in New Jersey
When it comes to burglar alarm systems, false alarms are a significant burden for law enforcement. Untold costs in terms of man-hours are borne by the local, county and state law enforcement when they are diverted from preventing and solving real crimes to responding to “burglary calls” from residential and commercial alarm systems. Typical causes of false alarms include active pets, floating balloons, and babysitters and houseguests not knowing the system. Also, faulty or poorly installed equipment accounts for quite a few false alarms.
In addition to wasting taxpayer-funded resources, false alarms also cause residents, businesses, neighbors, first-responders, law enforcement and even burglars themselves to become desensitized to alarms, which ultimately defeats the alarm’s entire purpose.
“We had an alarm system that just wasn’t working. It was going off every other night. We are in a very tough area, Elizabeth NJ, and we were getting robbed because people knew that our alarm was going off every other night,” Cambria Senepole. “And after two times a month, our police department charges you for calls, so we just needed a complete change.
False alarms are so costly that an increasing number of counties and municipalities are enacting legislation that actually penalizes residents and businesses for recurring false alarms within a given timeframe, as Cambria Senepole told us. Typically, residents and businesses are levied a fine which increases per each false alarm; in extreme cases, the police will note a certain address after multiple false alarms and stop responding to calls emanating from the offending residence.
False alarms, one of the major disadvantages of the unmonitored/self-monitored alarm systems, are defined as any alarm signal that elicits a response by police and/or fire personnel where there is no actual fire or criminal activity. Although defective or poorly maintained equipment can and does cause some false alarms, even the most modern and expertly installed equipment is susceptible to false alarms caused by weather conditions (wind, storms and lightning) power outages, user errors, low batteries and accidental triggering of motion detectors.
As a result, it’s essential to install an alarm system with a company that has a 24/7, 365 day a year, UL listed monitoring center. This way, the center can call to confirm whether the alarm is false or not.
Many townships in New Jersey have laws pertaining to alarm systems and false alarms. For example, the township of South Brunswick allows for four false alarms within a 12 month period. After four false alarms, the fines begin. Each false alarm over four will be assessed a $50 fine. Each one over eight will cost $150 per false alarm, each one over 10 results in a $500 fine. And, in the worst case scenario, every false alarm over 20 will be assessed a minimum fine of $500 and will carry a mandatory court appearance.
However, some Townships aren’t as lenient as others. Hampton Township’s laws regarding false alarms don’t allow for many mistakes. In Hampton Township, for the first false alarm in any single calendar year, a warning shall be issued. But, for the second false alarm in a calendar year, a fine of $50 shall be paid to the Township of Hampton. For the third and subsequent false alarms in the same calendar year, a fine of no less than $100 and no more than $250 for each occurrence shall be paid to the township, accompanied by an advisory letter from a licensed alarm company stating that the system is operating properly. If a person fails to provide such advisory letter, a fine may be imposed by the court up to a maximum of $500 in the court’s discretion.
The lesson for homeowners and business owners alike to take away here is this: install your alarm system with a trustworthy alarm company and be aware of your township’s false alarm laws. The importance of a reliable monitoring center cannot be overstated; it will prevent fines and increase the safety of your home or business. Make sure you are aware of the penalties that come along with false alarms in your town, but most importantly, entrust your safety to a reliable provider.