Toronto police officers will no longer respond to burglar alarms unless there’s verified proof of criminal activity or a threat to personal safety.

The service made the announcement in a news release on Monday, noting that the change is part of its ongoing modernization plan, The Way Forward.

“Up until today, we would send a police car and two officers whenever there was an activation for a burglar alarm,” Sandra Buckler, Strategic Communications Advisor for Toronto Police Service noted when explaining the changes on CP24.

Now police will only respond if an alarm can be verified by one of the following:

  • An audio device
  • A video device
  • Multiple zone activations
  • An eyewitness on the scene (including a private security company employee)

According to police, results of a 2016 internal review found that 97 per cent of calls to activated burglar systems were deemed false alarms.

“We weren’t actually reaching our modernization goal of being where the public needs us the most because we were sending police officers to where we didn’t need police response,” Buckler said. “That’s all going to change today.”

Police say the new rules will not apply to panic alarms.

“When a panic alarm button is hit, we will absolutely attend,” Buckler said. “Also, if we get evidence there has been a burglary, we will also attend that call too.”

Some officers have already begun educating citizens about the change on social media.

On Twitter, Sgt. Wendy Drummond offered a series of tips for homeowners to reduce false alarms, including:

  • Changing alarm batteries frequently
  • Keeping alarm sensors clear of debris
  • Updating key holder information
  • Scheduling regular maintenance and
  • Keeping families and employees educated on system operations