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Houston Police Reveal Alarming Details

March 28, 2005 -- The Houston Police Department would like to remind the public that city ordinance requires that an alarm permit be obtained for any premises (business or residence) where a system is installed. The permits, which must be renewed on a yearly basis, can be obtained by calling the Houston Police Department
Alarm Detail at 713-308-1400. Information regarding the issuance of the permits, as well as an application, is also available on the police department's Web site: click here.

"We estimate that 90% of buildings and residences in Houston are not permitted," said Sergeant Joe McGee of the Alarm Detail. "When we ask as to the reason for not having a permit, most citizens tell us they did not know that one was required. It is also important that permits be obtained in order to ensure that a police unit will respond," he added.

Other information relevant to alarm permits is as follows:

Houston police responded to more than 120,000 burglar alarms in 2003. Of those, 98% were false.

Permitted sites are not charged for the first five false alarms. Burglar alarms at locations without a permit are not responded to, however, a citation is generated for failure to have the required permit. This citation can result in a fine of up to $500.

A police unit will always be sent to the location of a hold-up (also known as a panic button) alarm regardless of permit status, however, citations will be issued for lacking a permit or for the inappropriate use of these type of alarms. Hold-up buttons must only be used in an emergency. Their use for non-emergencies constitutes a false alarm.

For additional information, please contact the HPD Public Affairs Division at 713-308-3200.