Sevierville couple says glass breakage burglar alarm didn’t work


SEVIERVILLE (WATE) – A Sevierville couple says a burglar or burglars broke windows in their home, but the glass breakage alarm never sounded.

There’s a certain peace of mind when your home is secured by an alarm system and monitors. There are a lot of do-it-yourself security systems, but many people prefer to have the system installed by professionals.

The break-in happened when Fran and Joe Martin were in their bedroom asleep and two windows were smashed. The alarm should have gone off, and the monitoring company should have been contacted because the couple had window breakage sensors – five of them throughout the house.

“Somehow they reached in an unlocked it because the sash was up,” said Joe Martin.

Their central alarm sounded after the thieves came into the home undetected.

“When they opened this door to leave, that’s when the alarm went off,” Joe Martin said.

The day WATE 6 On Your Side visited, the broken windows had not yet been fixed, and plywood still covered the shattered glass as the couple awaited repairs. The Martins filed a sheriff’s report following the midnight break-in and loss of two cell phones.

Installers say the sensor is a microphone and sharp noises, like breaking glass, should sound the alarm.

“Everybody, even the police, said once they broke that window… it should have went off, and it did not go off,” said Joe Martin.

The Martins’ security service is with FES, a division of Frank’s Electric Service, a private business out of Maryville. The couple’s contract with FES was signed three and a half years ago. In addition to the key pad, several door sensors were installed as well as the general alarm system. Five glass breakage sensors, for a total cost of $250, were set up separately.

“We called FES Security. We told them we wanted somebody to come here and double check the system and two gentlemen showed up from FES. And I showed them the damage. They both agreed that that alarm should have gone off,” said Joe Martin.

Shortly after the technician’s visit, the couple contacted FES again.

“We called, and he’s not doing a thing,” said Fran Martin.

To understand what went wrong, WATE 6 On Your Side contacted FES by email and by phone several times. They have yet to respond. Security and alarm company contracts, like the Martins’, contain language that requires customers to test their system monthly; to notify the company if there is a problem; and there’s a $1,000 limit of liability in the event of loss.

At this point, the Martins question the effectiveness and extra expense of the glass breakage sensors.

While monthly testing is standard alarm industry advice and is even written into most monitoring agreements, industry reports say that few homeowners test their systems in such a disciplined manner. It is also recommended that you test your alarm system once a month to make sure the door and windows are working correctly, as well as the glass breakage sensors.

It can be very scary when you learn the hard way, as the Martins have, that your peace of mind was nothing of the sort. No system is 100 percent failure proof.

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