Coral Gables

Coral Gables changes rules for burglar alarms

Coral Gables residents will now have the option of opting into the city’s new “Quick Response Burglary Prevention Program.”

Under an ordinance passed Sept. 23, residents can authorize their alarm company to immediately contact the Coral Gables Police Department for dispatch if the homeowner does not answer on the alarm company’s first try.

Before, when an alarm went off, the alarm company is set to call the homeowner, then up to two other numbers provided to reach the homeowner, and then police.

The goal is to have faster police response times. The city says that the verification calls by alarm businesses create an artificial delay in officer response times to residential burglaries, hindering the catching of criminals.

City commissioners changed the ordinance after a number of city residents complained about burglaries this summer.

Commissioner Vince Lago pushed for the ordinance, noting “that it will reduce response time by almost half, resulting in less stolen property.”

“Now police won’t have to jump through so many hurdles prior to arriving at the residents’ home,” Lago said. “Before, an alarm company would call a person’s cell, a person’s home, the third or fourth would be police. Now, they make one call to the person’s cell, then immediately call police.”

The proposed ordinance also “provides residents with a potential legal cause of action against those alarm businesses which fail to comply with the terms of this emergency ordinance,” said City Attorney Craig Leen in a memo.

No fee will be assessed to residents enrolled in the program for the first four false alarms in one calendar year. For non-participants of the program, they will get only two free false alarms in one calendar year.

After the last free false alarm, the charges will be $60, then $110 for the next, and $210 after that, according to Diana Gomez, the city’s finance director.

“The city commission wishes to increase the ability of law enforcement to respond and effectively to incidents of residential burglary throughout the city,” the ordinance said.

Applications to enroll in the Quick Response Burglary Prevention Program will be available at City Hall in the coming weeks. There is no charge to enroll.

The city will also be sending residents informational packets in the mail. For more information call Coral Gables City Hall at 305-446-6800.

Related stories from Miami Herald