Lufkin Crime Stoppers Crime of the Week: Be aware of residential alarm scams

Lufkin Crime Stoppers Crime of the Week: Be aware of residential alarm scams

LUFKIN, TX (News Release) - Area law enforcement agencies occasionally receive reports of suspicious persons and possible scams involving door-to-door residential alarm sales. When officers respond to such reports, they often find their hands tied and leave the complainant frustrated. If the "suspicious" person works for a registered alarm service provider that is engaged in interstate commerce, ordinances concerning door-to-door solicitation do not apply, and the person is legally able to conduct sales.

Some of these alarm salesmen, however, are not legitimate or are using deceptive practices. They talk their way into a home, mislead the resident, and leave the victim more vulnerable to crime.

One scam involves a representative of an actual alarm company tricking a home owner into a new long-term contract. The salesman claims to be contracted by the homeowner's current alarm service provider to inspect the alarm equipment. Then he or she finds that the equipment is obsolete and must be upgraded and offers to roll the cost of the upgrade into the monthly alarm monitoring fee if the homeowner agrees to a 60-month contract.

The homeowner is left with an under-performing or non-functioning alarm system, the hassle of trying to obtain service from the traveling salesman and a company that changes names weekly, and an "upgrade" fee that costs them many thousands of dollars over the term of the contract.

While the Interstate Commerce Act supersedes local solicitation ordinances, the alarm vendors do not have a statutory guarantee of access to private property. Private citizens are free to allow or prohibit, as they wish, alarm vendors access to their property. If, for any reason, a citizen expresses a desire for an alarm vendor to remain off, or leave their private property, the vendor must immediately comply with the citizen's wishes.

Texas penal Code Section 30.05, Criminal Trespass, states, in part, that a person commits an offense if they enter or remain in property of another without effective consent and they had notice that the entry was forbidden or failed to depart after receiving oral or written notice to do so. A violation of this law will subject the violator to the possibility of arrest and prosecution.

Area law enforcement officers are aware of the alarm vendors moving through East Texas but cannot intervene unless notified of a specific problem. Call your local law enforcement agency's non-emergency number if you have any problem with a solicitor, and dial 911 if you feel you are in danger.