Mesa is looking to close a loophole that lets homeowners avoid false alarm fines when their security system needlessly activates.
Police estimate the city would collect more than $300,000 a year if officers could fine every person who had a false alarm.
Mesa only allows police to fine residents who hold an alarm permit, but the city doesn't require them. The loophole serves as a disincentive to have a permit, Lt. Lee Rankin said.
Rankin told the city's Public Safety Committee that about 20 percent of all burglar alarm calls are from homes without a permit. And police estimate 40 percent of alarm users don't have a permit.
Police respond to every call, which costs the city $654,310 a year. Only about half that is recovered through fines that range from $50 for the first violation and up to $400 for the seventh and all subsequent false alarms.
False alarms are a major source of work for police, as they are the third-highest call for service. Mesa logged 11,427 alarm activations last fiscal year - and all but 229 of those were false calls. That translates to 98 percent of alarm calls being false.
Along with closing the loophole, the city is considering other changes to reduce false alarms. The city is drafting regulations that expand the responsibilities of alarm companies when installing systems, educating customers and implementing their own efforts to reduce false alarms.
The safety committee agreed to recommend the changes to the City Council for later consideration. According to police, the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, a national industry association, supports the proposed changes.
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