301.519.9237 exdirector@nesaus.org

5-21-24 -BTV –

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – Imagine your home security alarm going off in the middle of the night and learning someone had broken into your home, but you were not able to get help from your alarm company.

A northeast Charlotte man reached out to WBTV for help after he said it happened to his family.

“Everyone’s in the house asleep,” said George Allen, who lives in the College Downs neighborhood in University City. “The alarm goes off, saying basement door open.”

Allen says it was just after 1 a.m. on Tuesday, April 16.

“I get up, put on my pants, grab my weapon, step in my shoes, and by that time, Brinks Home Security is calling me,” said Allen.

Allen said, with his heart racing; he then made his way out the front door to walk around the side of the house and to the basement. The agent on the phone asked him if he wanted the police to respond.

“And I’m telling him don’t call yet,” said Allen. “Let me check and make sure because I left the door open.”

Allen said he was working in the basement earlier in the day and he thought he left the door unlocked. He said he believed the wind might have blown the door open.

But Allen says when he got to the door, it was locked.

“I realize then there’s somebody in my house,” said Allen. “So I said, ‘Hey man, I need help, call police!’” he recounted telling the agent. “And then he says, ‘What’s your password?’… ‘You called me!’ said Allen. “I couldn’t think of my password, and then I finally think of it and give it to him, and then he says, ‘You have to dial 911 yourself because your permit is not valid.’”

Allen is referring to an alarm system permit. Many cities and counties, including Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, require residents to have a permit to reduce false police calls.

At that moment, Allen says he didn’t question the agent.

“I’m perplexed. I stand back. I hang up from him, and I dial 911,” said Allen. “You don’t know how hard it is in those moments from brain to finger to hand to dial 911.”

While police were on their way, Allen says a woman stepped out of his basement with some of his things in her hands. Allen’s cameras caught that moment.

“Immediately I said, ‘Get on the ground, get on the ground,’” Allen recalled. “She gets on the ground, and I make her dump everything out of her purse and put everything down.”

Allen says his wife stayed on the phone with dispatchers until police arrived to help. Only later could the couple start to process what happened.

“Later that day I called back to Brinks to figure out, ‘OK give me a rundown, we just had a traumatic event. Tell me why you failed me,’” said Allen. “The supervisor said, ‘Well, Mr. Allen, your permit is not valid; therefore, we cannot call and assist you.’”

But Allen says that is not what he was told when he then called Charlotte Alarm Management Services.

“The officer says, ‘Mr. Allen, I don’t know why that happened because your permit is valid,’” said Allen.

Allen showed us his Brinks Home Security app, which confirms his permit is valid through December 2024. When we called Charlotte Alarm Management Services to confirm, Allen’s permit number was listed as being valid on the morning of April 16th, 2024.

“We’ve got a serious problem because what I do I pay you for,” said Allen. “You didn’t come to my aid. What did you call me for? Just to say, ‘I hope you make it?’” he added.

Allen says when he called Brinks again a third representative acknowledged his permit was active. He says he was eventually offered updated security equipment.

“Your equipment is not what failed me,” said Allen. “It was your policy. It was your agent that failed me.”

Three weeks after the ordeal — Brinks Home Security credited Mr. Allen with six months of free monitoring, something he had not agreed to because he says he felt more should be done. As we started asking questions, a Brinks Home spokesperson shared a statement with WBTV saying they deeply regretted the incident.

“We sympathize with Mr. Allen and his family for this distressing experience and deeply regret the incident. We know that customers trust Brinks Home with their safety and security and understand that this incident has jeopardized our customer’s trust and we are doing all that we can to support Mr. Allen and remedy the situation. The Brinks Home customer service and technical teams have since taken action to address the extremely rare systems issue that delayed our ability to dispatch law enforcement to Mr. Allen’s home. The issue is now fully resolved and will not impact Mr. Allen’s service in the future. We have spoken directly with Mr. Allen to apologize and address any lingering concerns and to assure him that such an incident would not happen again. As a company, we remain committed to working hand in hand with our customers, like Mr. Allen, to resolve any issues or concerns and will continue to do so in the future.” – Brinks Home Security

After WBTV began looking into Mr. Allen’s story and asking questions, Mr. Allen requested to be refunded what he has paid for monitoring since he became a customer, as well as a year’s worth of free monitoring. Brinks Home has now honored that request.

Allen says he and his wife are grateful for the apology and the outcome with Brinks Home. Now they hope by sharing their story, it will encourage all homeowners to check their alarm permit policies and local ordinances.

“I want the people of Mecklenburg County to know that you have a responsibility to make sure all of your docs are in order,” said Allen. “You have a responsibility, and your alarm system has a responsibility.”

CMPD tells WBTV that in certain circumstances, they can send police response to an alarm call without an active permit, but they say in this situation, they did not have that information from the home security dispatcher.

We also reached out to three major home security providers to dig deeper on your permit responsibility.

When it comes to checking on your alarm permit, keep in mind some towns and counties require them, and some do not. If yours does, it’s important to check with your security company as to whether they renew your permit for you as policies vary. Some will renew your permit on your behalf, depending on the jurisdiction. Others require you to apply for and renew your permit yourself based on local rules and regulations.

The Charlotte/ Mecklenburg County False Alarm Ordinance was adopted in 1996. If you’d like to read the full ordinance, click here.

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