Why Many NJ Towns Require You Register Your Burglar Alarm
In Montclair, a home or business must register its security alarm system with the township at an annual price of $50. Any false alarm beyond the first will run owners at least $50 and as much as $200.
The annual fee is $15 in Springfield in Union County. Failure to register an alarm could result in a $15 fine and a possible summons.
Alarm registration is required every two years in Princeton. The fee is $25, and an alarm is "chargeable" unless evidence of burglary or attempted burglary is found, or it's determined the alarm acted improperly at no fault of the homeowner.
Many municipalities throughout the Garden State have similar policies spelled out on their websites. Some just ask for the basics and no fee. Others charge for the paperwork and filing involved.
While alarm owners are obviously linked directly with their alarm company, which has a customer's best contact information, police want to make sure they're in the know as well.
"I think it's important to have burglar alarm sites registered with the local police department, especially for emergency contact information," said Christopher Leusner, vice president of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police and the chief of police in Middle Township. "So when there's an issue in the middle of the night, we're able to get in touch with somebody."
One-year permits in his Cape May County township run homeowners $25 and businesses $50. Leusner said the town's officers typically do not issue a false burglar alarm penalty until the third one in a calendar year. Even then, the fee could be waived if the customer adopts a process known as enhanced call verification.
Under normal circumstances, when an alarm is tripped, the alarm company calls a number given to them by the alarm owner in order to verify whether or not there's an issue. With enhanced call verification, the alarm company calls two numbers instead of one — preferably the second number connects to a cell phone. The Security Industry Alarm Coalition says the extra call delays response time by less than 30 seconds.
Leusner said the registration process helps cut down on false alarms, which means less waste of officers' time and resources.
"Every false alarm, two police officers have to respond to that site," Leusner said. "Those officers are going lights-and-sirens."
The Bridgewater Police Department says their officers respond to over 4,000 alarm calls per year, most of which are either accidental or the product of faulty equipment.
Since privatizing the registration and tracking of alarm sites, the number of false alarms in Middle Twp. dropped by a third, while the number of registered sites shot up by nearly 200 percent.