After receiving a letter addressed to L & L Travel business, manager Bill Mault was puzzled by the subject line that read “non-registered alarm system.”
“Is this a real letter,” Mault asked.
After trying to contact the City of Lodi False Alarm Reduction Program with no luck, Mault said he assumed the letter was a mistake.
However, the letters were mailed in accordance with City of Lodi code (California Code of Ordinances Chapter 15.56) according to Lt. Michael Manetti with the Lodi Police Department.
The city passed the ordinance in 1999 but had not enforced it until this year. The effort made by the city comes after the rise in false alarm calls that have bombarded the understaffed police department.
“We receive approximately 180 false alarm calls a month. That’s an average of six calls a day,” Manetti said.
The city mailed out letters to all residents with their April utility bill in an effort to reduce the number of false alarm calls made to police.
Manetti stated that the department responds to more than 40,000 calls for service every year and approximately 8 percent of those calls — about 2,400 — are for alarm-related runs.
“Eight out of 10 alarm runs end up being false alarms,” Manetti said.
The ordinance places stricter penalties on people whose security systems constantly send out false alarms.
The ordinance institutes fines of $50 for a third false alarm offense within a six-month time frame and $75 fine after the fourth false alarm.
The fees are collected to balance out the cost of false alarm calls which the police department estimates to be about $40,000 per year in lost hours.
“When we get alarm calls we have to be on the scene within 20 minutes of receiving the call, and two officers have to respond to the call in the event that it is something serious,” Manetti said. “We are really hoping that these fees will help decrease the number of calls we receive and encourage people to be aware of their alarms.”
The FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics reports that more than 60 percent of the false alarms come from just a third of all alarm users. After two false alarms in one calendar year, the alarm user is required to have their system inspected.
Alarm companies are also required to compile a list of properties that have alarm systems and provide the list to the city each year. The companies have to register their customers to the city each year.
The ordinance requires residents to purchase an alarm permit prior to installing an alarm. The permit is a $25 fee that is charged to residential customers with no renewal fee. Commercial customers with alarm systems are charged an annual fee of $25.
Installing an alarm system without registering it with the city can result in a fine or cause a non-response by police. Offenders will be given notice and have 15 days to file for a permit.
More information about the city ordinance for alarm systems can be found at https://www.lodi.gov/288/Alarms.