False Alarms Lead St. Paul Police to Move Burglary Calls Down Priority List

August 13, 2017 10:24 PM

St. Paul police are planning to move burglary alarm calls down the priority list after a rash of false alarm calls in 2016 cost the city more than $2 million. 

On top of that, higher costs for burglary alarm licenses in the city coupled with significantly higher fines for multiple false alarms have some St. Paul home and business owners angry, especially with the priority change.

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St. Paul Police said they lowered burglary alarms from an immediate response to a sort of "get-there-when-you-can" call because a spike in false alarms cost the city about $2.6 million in 2016.

Sgt. Mike Ernster said another reason burglary alarms went from a Priority Two to a Priority Three call was to make better use of officers' time responding to a very significant increase in violent crime.

"We found 98 percent of burglary alarms were false and it took an average of 30 minutes for two officers to respond to that call and it actually then puts officers at risk, somewhat," Ernster said. "And it chews up valuable time when they could be answering calls for violent activity."

But Anthony Mahmood, owner of Aesop's Table and Deli, said he does not think it is fair to ask citizens to pay more for burglary alarm licenses and pay higher fines for multiple alarm calls when police give those calls a low priority.

"If my business is being robbed, so what, who cares?" Mahmood said. "They're onto something else because it is a lower priority, and it is not because police on the street do not want to be there. It is because they cannot be there because it is a lower priority and that is just not right, if my business has a legitimate alarm."

St. Paul homeowner John Vu said his east side home was burglarized, which prompted him to pay a private company for an alarm system. He said he is not happy to hear about higher city costs but lower police priority.

"It is frustrating," Vu said. "Very frustrating, but not surprising I guess. Because it seems like everything is going up in the city and to pay more for my burglary alarm license and higher fees if it goes off inadvertently makes it even worse, because (it's) not even considered a top priority by police that someone could be breaking into my home."

Ernster said police do upgrade some burglary alarms to an immediate response notification if the alarm company lets them know there is an audio or video recording of the incident as it takes place.

Credits

Jay Kolls

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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