- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 17, 2004

A home-alarm system of a vacationing Capitol Hill family has droned on since early yesterday morning, leaving authorities helpless and residents with ringing ears.

Neighbors said the security alarm began sounding after Potomac Electric Power Company crews restored power to the house and others in the 200 block of 15th Street SE after routine maintenance.

“It’s annoying. Maybe I’ll get a gun and blast it off,” neighbor Von Hanton said jokingly.

Mr. Hanton, 56, and his 81-year-old mother, Rosa, live a few doors away and said they were asked by the homeowners to keep an eye on the outside of the house. They have tried unsuccessfully to find a phone number for Knight Security Services, whose stickers are posted on the house.

The District allows one alarm malfunction, then assesses a $50 fine for each additional incident.

Officer Kenny Bryson, a Metropolitan Police Department spokesman, said in this case, the police cannot do much without the company’s contact information.

“We will secure the residence and make sure nothing criminal is going on, but we cannot force entry and break in the residence to turn the alarm off,” he said.

Mr. Hanton said the noise has become so unbearable that he has tied a towel around the alarm box to muffle the sound.

“Just so we can have a little more peace, you know?” he asked. “I don’t want to tamper with it because I don’t want to damage it. We all look out for each other here, so I don’t want to break their equipment. I guess we’re going to live with it for a while.”

Stanley Manley, who lives across the street from the house, said he also knows the family but did not know where to reach them.

“I believe they’re out of the state, and I don’t have any emergency contact information for them,” he said. “I don’t know what company their security system is with. If we knew what company it was, we could call the company to turn it off.”

A power company spokeswoman said the only way to turn off the alarm from the outside is to cut power to the house.

“But we cannot do that because it’s private property and it would be a violation to interfere with service,” the spokeswoman said. “Other [important] things are running off the power, such as the refrigerator.”

However, she said customers should have power-surge protectors to protect against such problems.

“My sympathy goes out to the neighbors,” the spokeswoman said. “Unfortunately, there isn’t anything we can do.”

Officer Bryson advises residents going out of town to let a neighbor know where they will be, in the case of an emergency.

“Many times, the security company will have backup contact numbers for people who can be reached in such a situation,” he said. “We will try to the best of our ability to find a secondary contact.”

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