Fremont Chief on burglar alarms

Chief Steckler dispenses advise on burglar alarms on my favorite Niles chat group:

Hi Everyone:I don’t want to get into the debate of alarm systems and the Police Department response policy, other than to say they generally act as a deterrent and most burglars would rather attempt a burglary at a residential structure that is not alarmed.

With that said, I would strongly suggest that any alarm company you choose should be one that will respond to an alarm activation with private security to determine if the alarm is a malfunction or a real attempt at a burglary.  National statistics for the past 30 years, and what held true in Fremont since I have been here is that 99.3% of all alarms are a malfunction.  The three primary casual factors for malfunctioning alarms are human error (the homeowner forgets to reset), substandard alarm equipment, and substandard installation and training for the alarm owner.

Most reputable alarm companies will contract with a equally reputable monitoring company and they will call the PD on all alarms.  We then broadcast an alarm call and if officers are available, or in the area they will swing by.  Unfortunately it is the case that more often than not we are busy with other activities and no unit responds unless the alarm is humanly activated like a robbery, panic, medical aid alarm or we have an actual witness reporting a burglary in progress.

Your contract with the alarm company should specifically state that they will send private security.  We have a personal alarm at our home (due to our bombing in 1998) and my alarm company gave us two options.  $25 quarterly for up to 3 responses by private security, or $25 per response.  Since we have never had a false alarm activation we chose the per response costs.

If the alarm company does not offer this service, it would be my advice to find one that does if you are thinking of alarming your home.  We have numerous examples where the monitoring company did not call the PD, nor private security and it was finally a neighbor that kept hearing the alarm that called the PD so you need to be careful.

If you are going to alarm your residence the minimum should  be all screens (both for removal as well as cutting the screen), all entrance doors including the side garage door, and the master bedroom closet door.  I would suggest an outside ringer in addition to the silent alarm activation to the monitoring company.  Stay away from motion detection inside a residence since pets, heater or air conditioning units can cause an activation.  Make sure the home is fully signed with alarm notifications, ie each window and front and rear doors with a small sign that indicates the home is alarmed.  Also insist on what is called two call verification.  This means the monitoring company will call the home and if they don’t receive an answer then there is a secondary number (usually your cell phone) that will be called.  Statistics show that most alarms are activated between 5:00 AM and 8:00 AM (when people are leaving for work) and again between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM when they come home.

I am not allowed to recommend an alarm company, but you can research them on the Internet and through the BBB.

Chief Craig T. Steckler


Matt Artz


  1. Thank you very much for the article Chief. False alarms are definitely a major problem that needs to be addressed. They are wasting a lot of man hours for police departments and costing many homes money. I would recommend finding a security company that can verify an alarm without even having to call a private security company. Companies can do this through the use of an audio or video system while motion detectors have no way of verifying a break in is actually taking place. I would also recommend finding a company that will back up their talk and offer a false alarm fine guarantee.

  2. Does anybody else find it funny? Public servant Steckler frequently participates in a “chat-group” and always points out that he “doesn’t want to get into a debate” regarding the subject-matter, right before he puts in his own two-cents. He doesn’t want to debate… He just wants to be right!


    I hope he’s off the clock when he’s posting, or it may be more than just “two-cents” we’re talking about here, at least for the tax-payers.

  3. The question isnt “What percentage of residential false alarms are due to a genuine crime ?” – Which Chief Steckler would ask you to focus on, the question is – “How can the city cover it’s cost of response for invalid false alarms ?” Which other cities in California have been able to do.

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