According to a report by, some consumers believe they are being misled about home security because local police are not responding to alarms. Susan Widmer no longer feels safe at home, after learning that her ADT security system does not dispatch Milwaukee police when her alarm goes off or when she presses the panic button. Widmer says that she would have never have bought the system had she known. “I feel like I’ve been cheated out of time, out of money and out of a sense of security,” she says.

Milwaukee police do not respond to home security calls because of an ordinance that prohibits them from doing so. An ADT spokesperson says that it is the customer’s responsibility to know what the laws are in their community regarding police response. “Whether I knew or didn’t know about the ordinance, they were telling me that in fact this is how the system will work,” Widmer adds. City aldermen say they have received dozens of complaints from people about their home security systems, ADT in particular. “Individuals in the city of Milwaukee, in my view, have been hoodwinked by a service that will simply not be provided to them,” Milwaukee Alderman Jim Bohl contends.

“I blame the company—as a large company basically looking at customers as dollar signs and not being in the business of protecting them, but worried about how much money they’re making in a year,” says Widmer. According to city officials, ADT operated without a license for 11 months in 2000 and hasn’t paid a $27,000 fine. In 1998, Milwaukee police responded to 35,095 alarms, of which 34,157 were false.

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