The false alarm heard around the world

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Apparently false alarms are as big of a concern in Ireland as in the United States. That’s where my wife and I went for our honeymoon back in July, and where we spent a captive hour one afternoon listening to a radio talk show discuss the issue while we headed from one city to the next.

Radio personality Derek Davis hosts a weekday call-in program on station RTE that is scripted in most part by the problems of his listeners. On this particular afternoon, a gentleman called in seeking Derek’s help. The caller said a vacant house in his neighborhood was blaring an alarm signal all night and into the morning, driving him insane and his neighbors to seek refuge at their in-laws’ homes.

Early in the show, this caller made his plea for help. He said the police were notified and responded, but ultimately they decided it was not their concern. Contact the alarm company, they told him. He did just that and the company said they had no record of any account holder at the address.

More listen-ers started calling in, prescribing advice that ranged from ripping off the exterior alarm box to directions on how to disconnect the property from the power line. Derek suggested, quite parentally, that such actions might be less than legal. He was dismissed and overruled. Caller after caller shared their own personal experiences with such nuisances and how they fixed them.

What makes this story unique is nobody had checked to see if the location was actually ‘vandaled.’ The initial caller said he didn’t, and added that he really didn’t care either way. His family was pushed out of the back of the house into the front of the house where the sound was muffled. His neighbor’s personal property wasn’t his concern, but his and his family’s mental health was.