City looks to stiffen penalties for false burglar alarm calls

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin City Council will ask the city manager to consider higher fines and penalties for those businesses with a track record of false alarms.

In 2012 there were 31,760 burglar alarm calls within city limits. About 28,500 were false alarms, the city said.

Dallas and Houston already have fines in place for repeated alarms, so Austin is attempting to follow suit.

The law reads:  Sec. 214.197. PENALTIES FOR FALSE ALARMS. A municipality may impose a penalty for the signaling of a false alarm by a burglar alarm system if at least three other false alarms have occurred during the preceding 12-month period. The amount of the penalty for the signaling of a false alarm as described by Section 214.196 may not exceed:

(1) $50, if the location has had more than three but fewer than six other false alarms in the preceding 12-month period;
(2) $75, if the location has had more than five but fewer than eight other false alarms in the preceding 12-month period; or
(3) $100, if the location has had eight or more other false alarms in the preceding 12-month period.

This law has been in place since 2005.

The proposal goes in front of the city council this week. The current fines for repeat offenders are in line with the law, but the city intends to raise the fines and impose tougher restrictions on permits.

Of the alarm calls, 37 percent are to businesses and homes that do not have a permit. City officials say that makes it even tougher to collect fines. Under the current system, a person can obtain a security system, and then is expected to obtain the permit from the city.

Here is the list of the top ten false alarm offenders in 2012 and 2013:

  • Connally High School: 49
  • Sears, Parmer Lane: 40
  • Wells Fargo Bank,  W. Slaughter Lane: 36
  • Mangia Pizza, Burnet Road: 35
  • Maxwell Ford: 33
  • Central Health/North Central Health Center,  W. Braker Lane: 33
  • NTB Discount Tires, St. Elmo Road: 32
  • East Side Grocery, Manor Road: 32
  • Pizza Hut, Burnet Road: 32
  • City of Austin Central Maintenance Complex: 31
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