False Alarm Education

One might ask, “What is a false alarm?”  Per city ordinance, a false alarm is defined as an “activation or transmission of any alarm signal caused by human error, mechanical or electronic malfunction, negligence of the alarm user or alarm user’s employee, whether or not the exact cause of the alarm activation is determined, or any other activation or transmission of any alarm signal where no actual or attempted burglary or robbery exists.” 

When responding to alarm activations, officers conduct a throughout check of the premises to search for evidence of a break-in or attempted break-in.  When there is no evidence to support a break-in, the alarm activation is deemed false. 

The department notifies alarm users of false alarm activations. To dispute a false alarm invoice, contact Jennifer Phillips at (847) 289-2749 or via e-mail to .

Causes of False Alarms

  • User error
  • Failure to cancel alarm activation with monitoring company
  • Passcode not known, given or forgotten
  • Unlocked or loose doors
  • Wandering pets, in the path of the motion detector(s)
  • Overly sensitive motion detector(s)
  • Balloons, curtains, fans, heaters, plants, etc., in the path of the motion detector(s)
  • Remodeling or construction
  • Weak system batteries

Do Thunderstorms and Power Outages cause False Alarms?
This is the source of confusion for many alarm users and the answer is no!  Thunderstorms and power outages should not cause false alarms.  All alarm systems should have a back-up battery that powers the alarm system for a minimum of four hours.  However, a weak battery can trigger alarm activations.  To prevent this, your battery should be checked annually, or whenever there is a power outage.  For further information, contact your alarm company. 

Tips to Decrease False Alarms

As an educated alarm user, you can avoid costly false alarm activations.  The following are some tips to assist you with this quest:

  • Train those who have access to the alarm system.  Rehearse how to cancel accidental activations.
    o    Enter the disarm code to reset the system
    o    Cancel the alarm, notify the alarm company or monitoring station
    o    Do not call 911 to cancel the alarm activation
  • For businesses, hold monthly training sessions to ensure all employees are aware of protocol/changes. 
  • Remember how much time you have to arm or disarm the system.
  • If you give someone a key, give them the passcode to the alarm system. 
  • Conduct routine maintenance of the system.
  • Ensure the back-up battery is not weak.
  • Ensure doors are securely shut as you exit the home/business.