False Alarm Ordinance in West Virginia Municipality Set to Take Affect

Alarm owners in Wheeling, W.Va., will have to register their intrusion alarms or face penalties.

WHEELING, W. Va. – Residents and businesses here will have to register their intrusion alarms by Oct. 1 or face fines as mandated by an ordinance passed last fall adopting fees for responding to false alarms.

The free online registration process with a third party company is now open, Wheeling Police Department officials announced July 27. After Oct. 1, unregistered alarms can result in a fine of $100 and failure to renew every year will result in a $25 fine.

With the registration program also comes escalating fees for false alarms, theintelligencer.net reports. There is no fine for the first offense, but a second false alarm within a year will result in a $50 fine – although alarm users can have the penalty waived if they take a class on proper operation of alarm systems.

Third and fourth offenses will result in a $100 fine; fifth and sixth offenses, $200; and seventh and eighth offenses, $300. The ninth and each subsequent false alarm will cost a user $400.

“The big part of this is our officers do respond to a lot of alarms on a daily basis. This will hopefully enable our officers to focus more on patrol, rather than sending two units to every alarm we receive,” said Lt. Phil Redford, special operations commander for the police department. “Every alarm will be treated as an actual alarm, but this is a process so that people can learn to use their alarms properly or fix any that are malfunctioning.”

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Cry Wolf Services will manage the database and fine system under the new ordinance. Residents and business owners can register for free. According to the police department, in 2012, more than 99% percent of all burglar alarm calls in Wheeling turned out to be false alarms. That year, Wheeling officers responded to 1,373 burglar alarm calls, only seven of which were the result of a true emergency.

Many addresses in the area have five or more false alarm calls per year, police said.

The ordinance includes burglar alarms both monitored and unmonitored, as well as audible and inaudible. Other types of alarms such as personal emergency response systems (PERS), fire and car alarms do not require registration.

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