False and absent alarms
The United States Department of Justice estimates that between 94% and 98% of all alarm calls to law enforcement are false alarms.
System reliability and user error are the cause of most false alarms, sometimes called "nuisance alarms." False alarms can be very costly to local governments, local law enforcement, security system users and members of local communities. In 2007, the Department of Justice reported that in just one year, false alarms cost local municipalities and their constituents at least $1.8 billion.
In many municipalities across the United States, policies have been adopted to fine home and business owners for multiple false alarm activations from their security system. If multiple false alarms from the same property persist, that property could even be added to a "no response" list, which bars police dispatch to the property except in the event of verified emergency. Approximately 1% of police alarm calls actually involve a crime. Nuisance alarms occur when an unintended event evokes an alarm status by an otherwise properly working alarm system. A false alarm also occurs when there is an alarm system malfunction that results in an alarm state. In all three circumstances, the source of the problem should be immediately found and fixed, so that responders will not lose confidence in the alarm reports. It is easier to know when there are false alarms, because the system is designed to react to that condition. Failure alarms are more troublesome because they usually require periodic testing to make sure the sensors are working and that the correct signals are getting through to the monitor. Some systems are designed to detect problems internally, such as low or dead batteries, loose connections, phone circuit trouble, etc. While earlier nuisance alarms could be set off by small disturbances, like insects or pets, newer model alarms have technology to measure the size/weight of the object causing the disturbance, and thus are able to decide how serious the threat is, which is especially useful in burglar alarms.