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False alarms drop in Barrie during pandemic: police

'The majority of them are commercial; very, very few were residential,' says police inspector
2022-03-21 Security
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Barrie police report there were far fewer false alarms during the second year of the pandemic than in previous years.

Meanwhile, there were many more valid calls triggered by private alarm systems across the city.

But that didn’t necessarily translate into more crime, advises Barrie police Insp. Carl Moore. 

“We believe that there was a rise in the impact of the opening of commercial businesses in 2021 compared to the lockdown we had in 2020 with COVID,” said Moore. “But what we need to be aware of is just because there’s valid alarms does not mean that there’s been more break-and-enters.”

There was no noticeable change in the number of break-ins, which have been consistent year over year, he added.

Most were unfounded or situations determined to be all secure, Moore said. Some involved unexplained motion-activated alarms and others were new employees punching in the wrong code.

“The majority of them are commercial; very, very few were residential,” he said.

Moore attributes the drop in false alarms to compliance that could lead to fines for repeated false alarms.

In all, there were 798 alarm calls in 2021. That’s a significant drop from the 1,046 calls in 2020. 

The two pandemic years were both lower than the three previous years which saw 1,389 calls in 2019, 1,379 in 2018 and 1,345 in 2017.

Of the 2021 total, 176 or 22 per cent were valid, a huge jump from the 25, 81, 49 and 41 calls from 2020 to 2017, respectively.

Organizations with repeated false alarms are generally fined. But those fines were suspended from March to June in 2020.

As a result, Barrie police generated $79,093 in fines in 2021 and $69,120 in 2020 while the three previous years generated roughly double that amount.

“I think more and more people are aware of the false alarms and the fees and there’s more compliance over the years,” said Moore.

The majority of valid alarms in 2021 were at commercial businesses. The significant rise last year may have come about as businesses reopened in 2021, Moore believes. 

Valid alarm activations included zone motion hits, perimeter door alarms, panic alarms, accidental trips/no code by staff members and confirmed break-and-enters, according to the city police 2021 annual false alarm report. 

The greater number of the valid alarms were cleared as all secure and unknown reasons for activation. A total of 32 false-alarm warning notices were sent out to homeowners in 2021.