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Burglar Alarm Noise Torture
At the time I am starting to write this
note, it is 5:05 AM Central Time. I have
been awake for more than an hour, and
will not be able to sleep in my house
possibly for the remainder of the weekend.
This is because of a loud faulty burglar alarm
going off at a nearby property, where the
occupants are not at home. It has a torturous
effect. I can see how people can be driven
mad by noise torture. It is a constant high-
frequency "whoop whoop whoop."
Tonight there were false alarms all over town
triggered by a severe thunderstorm.
I called the police to report this, and told
the dispatcher I was willing to sign a complaint.
The police came out, and there was nothing
they could do other than record the fact of
the false alarm. They said if the alarm system
was not registered, the owner would be subject
to a $25 registration fee and a $25 fine. Further,
they said that if registered, the owners are
allowed 10 false alarms in a 6-month period
before being subjected to a fine.
Since the owner wasn't home, I couldn't sign
a complaint. They said the occupants need
to be identified first. I can do this later, if I
care to keep my eye on the place and get the
auto tag number.
Who is going to pay my motel bill if that's what
I have to do in order to get some sleep this weekend?
Maybe I can sue in small claims court for this. I
don't know what to expect. The legal system seems
to favor the noise-makers these days, rather than the
The dispatcher said that within a one-hour period
there were 19 calls about false alarms. This is
from a community of about 80,000. Considering
that some were probably unreported and a single
alarm can broadcast for blocks, it is conceivable
that thousands of residents suffered sleep deprivation
because of this nuisance.
I called the dispatcher again, and inquired about
how many burglars were apprehended on account
of these 19 alarms. The answer was none. Of
course, she added that it was possible that the
alarms could have been triggered by would-be
burglars who were scared away by them. The more
likely hypothesis is the thunderstorm.
These alarm systems are defective products, and
should be tested by independent researchers before
being marketed. City ordnances need to be upgraded
to outlaw the sale of these products unless they have
been tested to determine that they are safe against
false alarms. Further, the police need the authority
to disable these systems on the spot in the event
of false alarms when the occupants are not at home.
-- Michael Wright
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