Letter is a mystery, lack of license isn't

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Sunday, May 1, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY--Apex Alarm found itself in troubled waters in late February when a salesperson misrepresented himself in a letter as an affiliate of three local police departments.
The Salt Lake City Police Department was informed by Protect America that the Apex employee, Curtis Taylor, sent a letter to a Protect America alarm customer claiming the Texas-based company did not meet certain regulations required by authorities and that the customer's alarm permit would be cancelled.
"Absolutely everything in this letter is false," said Shanna Werner, alarm administrator with the Salt Lake City Police Department.
The letter went on to suggest that the customer sign a contract with a company that complied with the local municipality's terms. The letter, which included the names of the Salt Lake City Police Department, the Salt Lake County Sheriff and the West Valley Police Department at the top, named Apex Alarm.
Keith Nelleson, owner of Apex Alarms, said Taylor's license had in fact expired.
"It simply slipped through the cracks," he said. "On the licensing infraction we were wrong."
But Nelleson said investigators had determined that Taylor did not send the letter out via a comparison of Taylor's signature and the one on the letter.
"The signature on the letter was not compatible with Taylor's," Nelleson said. "I have never seen anything like this letter before."
The letter also cited the customer's permit was being revoked because Protect America failed to obtain a third-party security firm for verified response, failed to install a cellular back-up system and failed to post the name and phone number of the third-party response firm on a sign no smaller than 8 inches by 10 inches.
Werner said Protect America, which did not return phone calls by press time, does have a third-party firm for reponse. She also said she knows of no jurisdictions in Utah that requires a cellular backup system or the notification of a phone number of the third-party response firm on a sign.
Werner, who was contacted by Protect America after its customer provided them with the letter, proceeded to file a complaint with Jim Grant of the Utah State Division of Professional Licensing, which cited Apex Alarm for hiring an unlicensed worker and Taylor for not having an active license.
Grant said the state takes licensing violations seriously as it tries to protect local consumers.
"We want to make sure we are satisfied with the people that are going into homes and setting up these alarm systems," Grant said.