Reno Police Target 'False Alarms'

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Only one percent of the 11,000 alarm calls police received last year were actual burglaries, the rest were false alarms.

That's why police are proposing stricter rules and heavier fines for people who can't keep their security systems under control.

The sound of an alarm error is something that the Lodo Loft clothing store manager hears all too often.

"It's kind of a big deal when the alarm goes off here, whether it's a false alarm or not, everyone's on the edge of their seat," said Kara Player.

She says there have been three burglaries at the store since it opened.

"The police came and took care of the situation. We actually have cameras too, so they did get a good look at the person, but they still didn't catch them."

The high-end clothing store has been a target to thieves...but Player says the store's security system isn't perfect either. She says there have been a number of 'false alarms' in the shop, and police have responded to every one of matter the reason.

"Human error is a big one, equipment malfunction could be the reason," said Commander Doug McPartland of Reno Police Department.

McPartland says 'false alarms' are frustrating to officers, who could be responding to real emergencies.

"Other calls, other crime problems they could be taking care of."

If the new ordinance is passed by the city of Reno, shops like Lodo Loft will be fined up to 200 dollars for a false robbery or panic alarm.

"By assessing a fine the first time, you're going to get the person's attention and we think there more likely is going to be a correction to whatever caused the problem."

Player says the fines are steep, especially for a small business owner, but with three burglaries in the store's past...

"The police did come and we appreciate that, but it's hard. You never know. And being a small business, losing merchandise, that's a big cut," said Player.

The Reno Police Department is working with local alarm companies to figure out the best way to curb the 'false alarm' problem, while still providing security to homes and businesses in the area.

The new ordinance would require alarm users to have a permit and special training for their systems, which could cost them some money.

The Sparks Police Department adopted a similar ordinance a few months ago, and so far, they've seen a significant decrease in the number of false alarms. Calls went down by 14% in March and 18% in April.