LOS ANGELES : City Panel OKs Crackdown on False Burglar Alarms

A Los Angeles City Council panel Monday recommended approval of an ordinance aimed at reducing the number of false burglar alarm calls.

Such false alarms account for nearly a fifth of all police calls, officials said. Pending council approval, home and business owners would be fined each time officers respond to more than two false alarms in a year.

"This is going to improve the general public safety situation in the city," said Councilwoman Laura Chick, the measure's author. "It makes the alarm systems work effectively and improves our response time."

The measure approved by the Public Safety Committee places new regulations on security alarm companies and their customers that would require security employees to phone a customer and verify the need for assistance before calling police. Most false alarms are blamed on human error.

Currently, homeowners and businesses are allowed four "free" false alarms before the city begins levying fines. The ordinance also would require all alarm owners to obtain a city permit. Failure to do so would be a misdemeanor and unlicensed operators would get no "free" false alarms. In 1993, police checked out 161,800 reports of activated alarms, of which 95% turned out to be bogus, officials said.

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