Local businesses and homeowners across the Triad are inadvertently wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars by mistakenly triggering security alarms.
False Security Alarms Costing Taxpayers Big
Sometimes it's as simple as not changing the battery, or a business not making sure its doors are secure before closing. Those mistakes are setting off the alarms, causing police to respond and according to the Greensboro Police Department (GPD), diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars in police services.
In Greensboro, security alarms triggered 17,000 calls to police last year. According to Susan Danielsen with (GPD), 98 percent of those were false alarms.
That means someone's alarm, home or business, went off; an officer or two were dispatched, they got to the scene and found out it was a mistake.
Greensboro police estimates those false calls diverted an estimated 960 thousand dollars' worth of police services.
"After you check it and see it's a false alarm then it's like 'ugh! I could have been somewhere else helping someone else'," said Officer EY Watkins who says she has responded to her share of those calls. "We would rather use our resources to respond to things that are emergencies instead of going to false alarms. It takes away manpower."
Police say mistakes do happen but it's the repeat offenders that are of concern.
Garda Cash Logistics, an armored vehicle company, topped the list last year.
Police responded to the property for 34 false alarm calls.
Peck Elementary, a Guilford County School, triggered 27 false alarms
and Mylan Pharmaceuticals triggered 26.
Each of those offenders had to pay about $6,000 in fines.
Guilford County Schools says the issue at Peck was a technical issue and has been resolved.
Mylan Pharmaceutical responded to News 2's inquiry with a statement: "Mylan takes very seriously its commitment to the safety and security of its personnel and facilities. The company has paid all applicable fines associated with the activation of its onsite alarm system in Greensboro and has made appropriate internal adjustments – in partnership with local law enforcement and its security systems vendor – to limit future occurrences."
A spokesperson with Garda said he could not discuss details of the company's security but said there are periodic checks of the system to limit false trigger.
The city of Greensboro collected more than $400,000 in false alarm fines last year but that's only about half of how much those calls cost taxpayers and police in resources.
In Forsyth County, the sheriff's department says only 72 of the 3,800 security alarm calls were crime-related last year.
In the Winston Salem Police, there were more than 10,000 calls for service but 96 percent were false.
However, officers still had to spend 3,600 hours at the scene because they didn't know the calls were false triggers until they arrived.
In Burlington, officers spent more than 940 hours responding to false alarms.
Rachel Hawley with the city estimates roughly $21,000 in diverted police services.
"I'm thinking about 8 calls a day that we're responding to. 96 percent of which are false so that's two officers per every call that aren't patrolling the streets because they are doing that," Hawley said.
K Mart, Aldi, Chik Fil A topped the list of offenders in the city, according to Burlington police.
Across other Triad, business seem to be the worst offenders.
Officers say most of these are caused by human error and certainly could be prevented.
Some homeowners also contributed to the list as well. Business and homeowners can be fined after 2 or three offenses depending on the city/county ordinance.
Police advice: secure all doors and windows before arming the system. Make sure motion sensors are adjusted correctly, especially if you have pets or ceiling fans.
And get your system inspected at least once a year.