Home and Business False Alarms

Part of a Sheriff's deputy public safety duty is to respond to tripped security alarms at Snohomish County homes and businesses.  Occasionally, the calls are for false alarms.  False alarms are not only irritating, but excessive false alarms are illegal (per Snohomish County Code, Chapter 10.52).  They can result in hundreds of dollars worth of fees and annoy your neighbors.  Here's how fines are determined:

  • The first false alarm or those occurring more than twelve months apart are not subject to fines.
  • The first consecutive numbered response to a false alarm will result in a fine equal to twice the amount of service costs plus $150.
  • A second consecutive numbered response to a false alarm will result in a fine equal to service costs plus $325.
  • A third consecutive numbered response to a false alarm will result in a fine equal to service costs plus $500.
  • A fourth consecutive and each succeeding consecutive numbered false alarm will result in a fine equal to service costs plus $1,000.
If you fall into one of the categories above involving a fine, you will be notified by the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office by mail of the amount of the fine and payment information.

Please note it is the home- or business-owner's responsibility to work with their monitoring company to determine what tripped the alarm system. 
Questions about your false alarm fine?

Contact the Sheriff's Office
9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Preventing False Alarms

1. Know your codes.
A majority of false alarms are caused by the user entering an incorrect keypad code. To prevent false alarms, create an alarm code that every member of the family can remember.

2. Keep pets in their place or use pet immune sensors.
Pets often set off motion detectors that activate your home’s alarm. Consider replacing traditional sensors with “pet friendly” or “pet immune” sensors.

3. Secure all windows and doors.
 Keeping windows and doors shut is not only a smart security practice, it can also help prevent false alarms. Before you activate your home security system, be sure all windows and doors are shut. Prior to opening a window or door, disarm your system.

4. Alert house guests.
To minimize the chance of a false alarm, let visitors know your home security system is armed. If your guest is staying with you for a while, be sure he or she feels comfortable with how to arm and disarm your home security system.

5. Replace batteries regularly.
Your alarm system will warn you when the system batteries become weak. Changing the system batteries on a regular basis can help prevent a false alarm.

6. Pay attention to the weather.
Sometimes, acts of nature will set off your alarm. Strong winds, electrical storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes can result in a false alarm. If a storm is brewing, keep watch on your home security system.

7. Report suspected damaged or faulty equipment.
False alarms are typically due to human error. In fact, roughly 70 percent of false alarms are attributed to user mistakes. But if you think a false alarm is caused by a malfunction of your home security system, contact your provider immediately.