It was 4 in the morning when Alexius Weston got a call from her security company that the alarm in her popular downtown restaurant had been tripped.
This early-spring call wasn't the first. When she opened Shuga's back in 2001, she contracted with Brinks Home Security to set up and monitor a security system there. Over the years, the alarm would trip, she'd get a call, and the police would respond.
But this time, she got a second call from an operator at ADT Security Services: The police weren't going to respond because her security-system permit with the Colorado Springs Police Department had expired.
"I even called 911," says Weston. She says she was told that they wouldn't respond because "you don't know if anyone is in bodily harm — your alarm is just going off." According to Barbara Miller, CSPD spokeswoman, well over 90 percent of calls based on security systems are false alarms.
So Weston armed herself with a baseball bat and went to investigate on her own.
On July 4, she and her husband, Kurt Bunch, were in Crested Butte when they got another call from ADT. Their home security system was going off, and again, police weren't going to respond. That permit wasn't valid, either.
"When it happened the first time, I was pissed," says Bunch. "When it happened the second time, I blew my top."
This time, they persuaded a neighbor to investigate. As with the first incident, it was a false alarm. And as with the first incident, they had to re-activate their permits afterward.
Here's what happened to them, and perhaps more than five dozen other local customers, according to information provided by Weston: Through a series of mergers, the security company they'd originally contracted with was eventually absorbed by ADT in 2010. ADT was supposed to have filed with the police department a permit number for each premise. And "during the transfer of the records to Colorado Springs, and Colorado Springs back to ADT, that's when the ball was dropped," explains an ADT representative in a voicemail message Weston saved.
She has since spoken to others at ADT who, she says, have backtracked from that explanation.
Asked by the Indy for comment, ADT media relations director Sarah Cohn said, "We have resolved this situation with all our impacted customers in the Colorado Springs area. That's the only statement I'm giving."
While their security systems appear to be properly permitted at this point, Weston and Bunch aren't satisfied. For one thing, for roughly two years they were paying around $60 a month for "a false sense of security," as Bunch puts it; they want their money back. Further, now they distrust ADT as a provider. They tried to drop their service, but learned they'd have to honor their contract through next March.
"Now I'm stuck paying for a service that I think is ineffectual," he says.
Late last week, Weston says she was contacted by an ADT regional manager who told her that since this issue came to his attention a week prior, he'd found 62 other customers in similar situations.
"People need to know that, if you have ADT, and your alarm system was installed by Brinks or Broadview in the city of Colorado Springs, you might not have a valid alarm permit," says Bunch. "It doesn't matter if you have an alarm system — call and see if you have a valid permit."
To do that, try Valory Gage with the police department at 444-7824.