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Toronto Police Will Stop Responding to Unverified Burglar Alarms

Posted by Rick Charney on Sep 28, 2018

A recent article in the Toronto Star reported that Toronto police will stop responding to burglar alarms unless there is evidence of actual criminal activity. The department performed an internal review, revealing that 97% of their calls in 2017 were false alarms. This change was implemented to make emergency responses more efficient.

Before officers will be sent to the scene, they must receive proof of multiple alarms, or have audio, video or eyewitness accounts. A Toronto police spokesperson recommended that residents and business owners contact their security provider to make sure their current system is equipped to validate burglar alarms.

Toronto isn’t the only city to implement this protocol. Twenty metropolitan areas in the U.S. have been handling alarms in similar ways for many years. Since 2011,, Detroit police stopped responding to burglar alarms unless a security company could verify there was an actual crime in progress. Under the policy, a staff member of the security company or the building owner is required to go to the scene to confirm the alarm and wait there until the police arrive. If that person can verify the activity via audio or video, the details must be relayed to 911 operators who can record the call. Only after that will the case be turned over to police.

Milwaukee Police also require security companies to verify burglar alarms. Prior to implementing the change, about 4% of calls police received turned out to be legitimate. Many citizens complained to their elected officials after the initiative was enacted that security company salespeople were telling them police would automatically respond if alarms were activated. This turned out to be false information since the installed security systems were not connected directly to the Milwaukee Police. One local monitoring service admitted that it had called local police before verifying the need. As a result, their customers were fined by the city for repeat false alarms. Since the verification process was put into place, the number of activated speaker alarms decreased significantly, but 60% of those calls still turned about to be false.

Property owners and police precincts need a consistent method of verifying tripped alarms and criminal activity. Live remote video monitoring is an effective solution. Trained security operators, located in remote monitoring centers, watch multiple surveillance cameras on a property in real time. If they see any suspicious activity, they can activate a speaker warning and call police. Since it’s an incident in-progress and not a false alarm, officers typically respond quicker and with the force and number of officers needed.

Stealth Monitoring has strong relationships with police precincts across North America. Earlier this year, the Arlington police recognized a Stealth employee for her assistance in locating multiple suspects associated with a string of break-ins at multifamily apartment communities.

More and more major cities are requiring burglar alarms to be verified before dispatching police. Live video monitoring is a proactive security solution that can do just that.

If you have any questions about live video surveillance as a commercial security solution, contact us here.