Mission RCMP will no longer respond to reported alarms unless they can verify suspicious activity at the home or business, according to a new policy. The Mounties say too much police time is being wasted attending to false alarms
Photograph by: Ray Smith , Victoria Times Colonist
A new police policy aimed at reducing false break-and-enter calls in Mission has one security expert saying it's tantamount to laying out the welcome mat for criminals.
Mission RCMP will no longer respond to reported alarms unless they can verify suspicious activity at the home or business, according to a new policy that went into effect earlier this week.
Last year, more than 95 per cent of all alarm calls attended by Mission RCMP turned out to be false, Insp. Richard Konarski told The Province Thursday. Alarm calls made up 10 per cent of the detachment's total files.
"It's nuts when you think of all the wasted time and money," he said.
But Vancouver security expert Ozzie Kaban has mixed emotions about the new policy.
"If the bad guys realize police won't attend alarms that aren't monitored, they can do whatever they wish, and that puts homeowners at risk," he said.
Conversely, the founder of Kaban Protective Services said he understands police frustration over false alarms.
"We see people who go to discount stores, buy cheap equipment and get Sam off the street to install it. It goes off four or five times a week for no reason. That's costly and dangerous."
Kaban said more than 95 per cent of his clients ask for monitored systems, which would likely provide the verification required by Mission police.
Konarski said verification can be as simple as a neighbour confirming the presence of a suspicious car, or a concerned phone call from a homeowner. Police will also continue to attend panic, holdup and two-way voice alarms, as well as all alarms at schools.
"We've found very few false alarms from glass breaks, so those we'll continue to attend, as well as multi-zone alarms," he added. "It's really a way for private citizen to take ownership of the issue of false alarms."
When asked if criminals will take advantage of the new policy, Konarski said he didn't believe so. It's hoped the absence of false alarms will free up police resources to target prolific offenders and reduce crime, including legitimate break-and-enters.
The detachment commander said the issue has come up in other cities as well, including Langley and Coquitlam, where similar statistics led to policy changes.
Executive director of the Mission Downtown Business Association Ronda Cushnie said she's supportive of the new policy.
"We realize this would be a sensitive subject and a decision that police would not make lightly," she said. "Looking at the wasted time and money, it seems like a good idea to try to reduce false alarms."