How a Columbus Man Unknowingly Racked Up $20,235 in Alarm Fines

The city is currently in the middle of a review and overhaul of its regulations for alarm companies.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A man was unknowingly fined $20,235 for excessive false alarms here last year.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Quincy Miller bought a boarded up triplex that he planned to rehab. He then installed an alarm system to protect the property.

Between Feb. 29 and June 6, the security system tripped 48 times – with 43 of them false alarms, according to city records.

The city sent letters to the house warning Miller of the fines for excessive false alarms, but he wasn’t living there and said he didn’t receive them.

Miller assumed the alarms were ringing only to his cellphone, not the police, until the bill was forwarded to the address listed for the company that owned the property.

READ: Nonpayers of Alarm Fee in Tulsa (Okla.) Still Receive Police Dispatch

By the time his alarm company fixed the glitch, Miller’s property had racked up more fines than any other in the city last year, according to the newspaper.

“A lot of the process could be alleviated through better communication,” says Miller. “I don’t know that the city is motivated to do so because of all the revenue it generates.”

Based on an analysis of city data by the Dispatch, Columbus could have billed about $2.1 million in fines for false alarms last year. It collected nearly $1.4 million.

Columbus police received 47,566 alarm calls in 2016, with more than 75% of those false alarms.

“False alarms cost money,” Councilman Mitchell J. Brown says. “If people are aware of their alarm systems and they’re functioning properly, it minimizes the engagement of law enforcement or Public Safety to respond and just have it be a false alarm.”


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