In Fremont, a Business Owner Links Non-Response Ordinance to Break-in

FREMONT, Calif. (AP) _ Less than two weeks after police announced they will stop responding to burglar alarms without proof of a crime, thieves broke into a Fremont gun shop and stole 32 rifles and handguns as the store's alarm rang.

The burglars used an aluminum baseball bat to break the front door of Irvington Arms and smashed display cases with a crowbar before leaving with $20,000 in weapons early Wednesday.

Owner Martin MacDonald blamed the Fremont Police Department's policy, scheduled to take effect Feb. 18, that police will ignore burglar alarms unless there is evidence of a security breach or break-in.

``I think they basically invited crime into the neighborhood,'' MacDonald said. ``It's on every channel and in the newspaper. They might as well have said, in bold print, 'Commit robbery in Fremont,' because the PD won't respond. This was unacceptable.''

In announcing the policy last month, Fremont Police Chief Craig Steckler said it would save $600,000 a year in staff time and equipment costs, adding that more than 98 percent of the city's 7,000 alarm calls last year were false.

On Wednesday, Fremont police Detective Bill Veteran said the department was considering an exception to the alarm policy for businesses such as gun shops, but noted that burglars are rarely caught at the site of ringing alarms.

Jon Sargent, president of the California Alarm Association, said the new policy was ``launched much too quickly without the citizens' input.

``This Fremont policy is going to end up punishing all of the people who are taking measures to protect their properties and their lives.''