Alarms Unit

The Alarm Unit was established in 1988 for the purpose of reducing and regulating the amount of False Alarms that Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputies respond to. Due to false alarms, deputies have less time to handle calls for service (emergency and non-emergency), investigate crimes, provide proactive patrol, and back up other deputies in emergency situations. False alarms also tie up phone lines and dispatchers in our communications center, thus making it harder for citizens to get through when they call.

You can help reduce the number of false alarms by becoming familiar with what causes them and the prevention techniques that can reduce them. We have compiled some tips and resources to show you how.

Please note that the information on this website pertains to Burglar Alarms only. For information regarding Fire Alarm Permits, please contact Palm Beach County Fire Rescue.

Tips

False alarms are costly and dangerous, because they divert Sheriff’s Office deputies from proactive crime prevention efforts and can deny response to true emergency calls.

Major Causes of False Alarms:

  • Unlocked or loose doors/Windows
  • Children, Neighbors and Visitors
  • Cleaning Crews/Repairmen/Pet Sitters
  • Pets or other wildlife
  • User Error
  • Equipment Malfunction

Tips for Avoiding False Alarms

  1. If someone is trying to break into your house or you need help:
    1. DO NOT USE THE PANIC ALARM unless you cannot get to a telephone. 911 is a much quicker way to notify the police and, unlike any alarm system, it is the only way to be connected directly to us.
  2. Only those who know how to operate your alarm system should be given a key to your premise. Teach all family members, employees, and service personnel on proper use of the alarm system, and be sure they understand the cancellation process as well. This includes providing them with any code words for your account. Service personnel, such as pest control, housekeeping, and contractors, are responsible for a large number of false alarms. If they are permitted access to your premise when you are not there, they should also be thoroughly educated and instructed on how your system works.
  3. Have all loose fitting doors and windows with alarm sensors tightened. A loose fit may break the sensor contact even without opening the door or window.
  4. Keep pets, balloons, fans, curtains, seasonal decorations or any other object capable of moving away from alarm sensors.
  5. Have your alarm company inspect and perform routine maintenance on your system. Notify them immediately if you think that your system is not functioning properly.

General Information and Fees

A False Alarm means an alarm dispatch request where the responding deputy finds no evidence of a criminal offense or attempted criminal offense. False alarms include alarms caused by error and/or technical or mechanical failure.

Any business or residence that operates a burglar alarm system is required to obtain a permit from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Permit fees are $25 for the initial registration and a $25 renewal fee each year.
If a business has one or more alarm systems, protecting two or more separate structures having different addresses, a separate alarm permit will be required for each structure.

If the owner or property manager of an apartment complex provides alarm systems in each residential unit, the apartment complex shall obtain an alarm permit for each apartment. All units, whether occupied or not, shall be required to have a permit.

All users of an alarm system must have one representative (key holder), other than him/herself, available to respond to an alarm activation to open the premise and have the capacity to deactivate the system. Changes in emergency phone numbers must be kept current.

All alarm systems must have a back up power supply.

False Alarms within a permit year for the same alarm permit shall be subject to the fines. See below for schedule of fines.

Fines and Fees

False Alarms within a permit year for the same alarm permit shall be subject to the following fines:

1st – 2nd False Alarm No Fine
3rd – 4th False Alarm $50.00
5th False Alarm $75.00
6th – 9th False Alarm $100.00
10th and all subsequent $500.00

The above is not intended to explain the ordinance in its entirety. To read and/or download the Alarm Ordinance click on the following link: Palm Beach County Alarm Ordinance 2008-038. The ordinance applies only to the unincorporated areas of Palm Beach County and county pockets, as well as any incorporated city area patrolled by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

To download an Alarm Permit Registration form click on the following link.

Alarm Company Responsibilities

Alarm Company Responsibilities

In an effort to reduce false alarms, alarm companies must also abide by ordinance regulations. This also helps to ensure that fraudulent contractors do not take advantage of you. The following is only a summary of the responsibilities of the alarm companies as they pertain to the consumer. For more information regarding their requirements, consult the alarm ordinance.

  • Alarm Company means any individual, partnership, corporation, or other entity engaged in or causing the selling, leasing, maintaining, servicing, repairing, altering, replacing, moving, installing, or monitoring any alarm system.
  • Alarm Companies that install, monitor, repair, or activate an alarm system in the unincorporated area of Palm Beach County, or any other area patrolled by the Sheriff’s Office, must be licensed according to Florida State Statute 489 and have the appropriate occupational licenses.
  • Alarm Companies are responsible to instruct the alarm user on the proper use and maintenance of the alarm system, as well as provide retraining as necessary.
  • Alarm Companies shall also inform the alarm user of the requirements of this ordinance and provide them a copy. This may be done via the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office website, PBSO.org.
  • Alarm Companies are responsible to keep current information regarding new phone numbers, emergency contacts, or cancellation of service, and notify the Sheriff’s office in writing of this information.
  • Alarm Monitoring Companies must attempt to verify every alarm signal before requesting police dispatch. This means when an alarm is activated, the alarm monitoring company must first attempt to contact you to verify the validity of the alarm. (This is why it is important to keep all your contact information current.) If it is determined that an alarm signal is false, the  Alarm Monitoring Company must immediately call the Sheriff’s Office to cancel. This call must come from the alarm monitoring company only. We cannot accept cancellations from alarm users or their representatives. Silent, Panic, and Hold Up alarms cannot be cancelled.

FAQ

The alarm ordinance was put in place solely for the purpose of reducing false alarms. Due to the vast number of false alarms that occur because of improper use or defect, the Sheriff’s Office commits thousands of hours of manpower resources to answer these calls. This results in slower response times to true crimes in progress, proactive patrol, and investigative time. The alarm registration process has proven to be effective in reducing false alarm calls. Experience also indicates that a majority of alarm users would not take responsibility for their alarm system or keep vital information updated without a permit and renewal process.

The permit application cost is $25.00 paid in advance. A $25.00 renewal fee is due one year after the original application date. After receiving the $25.00 renewal fee, and providing that any other fines have been paid, all false alarms are cleared from the premise record and the premise record will go back to zero.

Renewal invoices will be mailed the week of your renewal month each year.

Payments can be mailed to:

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office
Attention: Accounting
PO Box 24681
West Palm Beach, FL 33416-4681

Everyone operating an alarm system within Palm Beach County is required to register their alarm system. Government buildings are exempt from paying the registration fee but must register their alarm system.

Revenue generated from false alarm fines and registration fees is meant only to cover the operation costs generated by false alarms. Currently, the recovered revenue does not cover the expenses associated with false alarm response.

Regardless of the reasons for false alarm activation, the permit holder is held responsible for any fines due. This is why it is important to keep everyone who has access to your premise updated on your alarms usage. If you feel that your alarm was falsely activated due to mechanical malfunction, you must contact your alarm company. The Sheriff’s Office cannot provide technical assistance or advice.

Yes. If you disagree, the ordinance does have an appeal provision. To appeal a false alarm fee, please read the following: The Alarm User may appeal an assessment of a false alarm fee to the Sheriff’s Office by setting forth in writing the reasons for the appeal within ten (10) days of the date of the notice sent by the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office shall set the matter for an appeal before the Department’s Review Board. The alarm user may submit relevant evidence regarding the alleged grounds for suspension or revocation or the imposition of false alarm fees with their written appeal. The Review Board shall notify the alarm user of their decision in writing by certified mail no later than two (2) weeks after the appeal has been received. The decision of the Review Board shall be final.

No, car alarms do not need to be registered.

Yes, but you must call your alarm company and the Sheriff’s Office Alarm Unit to notify us of your new address.

No, but you must call the Sheriff’s Office Alarm unit with the new alarm company information.

Failure to pay the alarm fines within 30 days will result in suspended Sheriff’s Office response.

Yes it can be suspended from Sheriff’s Office response. Some of the reasons are failure to make a timely payment of assessed fees or fines, having more than five false alarms within a 365-day period, or making a false statement of a material fact in the application for registration.

If your account has become suspended, you will be required to pay all outstanding fees and fines.

The alarm ordinance went into effect in 1988.

If you received a duplicate alarm invoice, please contact us at (561) 688-3695 so we can delete the incorrect invoice (s). If you are directed to a voicemail box, please leave a message with your name, address, phone number, and the account/permit numbers that need to be combined or deleted.

Links

For more information, the following links are to other organizations, both private and public.