City looks to fine property owners for repeated false burglary alarm calls

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PORTLAND, Ore. – Each year, police respond to 13,000 alarm-triggered break-ins across Portland.

Nearly all of them are false alarms - 97 percent to be exact.

The city is looking at ways to prevent those false alarms from continuing to eat up officer's time.

Portland City Council passed a resolution that will require homeowners in the city to get a permit for their home security system.

The city will start giving out fines for the second false alarm call in a year, and the fines can get as high as $500 per call.

Police say there were more than 600 property owners who had four or more erroneous break-in calls. Those calls prevent police from being able to properly do their job.

“It makes our job more effective and it ensures that people throughout the Portland community, that we're being equitable to everybody,” said Sgt. Chris Burley.

Police say the average call to service takes up about 20 minutes of an officer's time.

Multiple false alarms may lead homeowners to get increased security, and then police will only respond to a call if more than one of the systems goes off indicating a break-in.

"Also video or sound notifications so that there's several additional triggers that indicate something is actually happening," Sgt. Burley said.

Donna Guardino runs Guardino Gallery on NE Alberta Street, she says her security system triggered a false alarm at least twice two years ago.

"They can go off for any reason, I once had one go off because a spider built a nest around (the motion detector) or something," Guardino said.

Guardino says she appealed the fine, but lost both times.

"I got a letter form police saying you got a warning, next time it's going to be money. And there was a next time," she said, begrudgingly.

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