Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Alarms in the Night

Around midnight I was in my robe watching the DVR'd recording of the Toronto Blue Jays demolishing the Yankees when Betsy came down to the room we call "man town." She handed my my cell phone and told me that it had rung. Sure enough, the history showed a 1-800 number that I recognized immediately: it was the Alarm Company. I called back, gave my authorization codes, and they told me that motion detectors had tripped at the church. Security had been dispatched. I told them that I would meet them there.

In a perfect church world the Rector would not be the first number on the alarm-notification list, but since I live less than five minutes by foot, it's simply too practical to avoid. So I put on my pants and walked down the church. When I arrived I could already see that some lights were on that shouldn't be on. The front door was locked, and there was no sign of security, yet. Nonetheless, I walked in. The alarm was armed when I entered, but when I reset it a message flashed that noted the location of the alarms that had been tripped earlier.

What to do. Security wasn't there, yet, but I was anxious to clear the building and curious about what had happened. So I went back outside and walked around the perimeter of the building. Nothing obvious. I went back inside. I figured that the alarm had probably scared the person away, otherwise the internal sensors would have been tripped a second time after the alarm company reset them. I decided to start exploring. To be safer I dialed 911 on my cell phone, but didn't press "send." I simply held the phone behind my back so that I could dial instantly if I did find something unsavory.

I walked down the dark hall toward the sanctuary. I could see that one of the sanctuary lights was on. I could also see light under the door to the sacristy. As I got further down the hallway I could see some plant stalks on the floor--the sort that might be in a dried flower arrangement. I doubt the cleaners would have missed this in their earlier cleaning--probably remnants of whatever/whoever set off the alarm.

In the sactuary--nothing. I checked the spots where someone could hide. nothing. I went into the sacristy. The light was on but I saw no other sign. One of the Chancel Guild had been by in the afternoon, and it's possible she forgot the sacristy lights, and the cleaners could have missed it. But they would not have missed the sacristy lights. Weird.

At that point I decided not to keep creeping around without backup. I waited outside and the security guy came after a few minutes. Together we checked the rest of the church. More signs that someone was there. Theories abound:
  1. Someone with a key, but not an alarm code, entered and set off the alarm. lots of people have keys to the church. however, the first sensor tripped was inside the building, not near the doors.
  2. No key, no code--someone forces there way through a weak door. On our search we found a door that looked like it could be forced open (a reason to call the locksmith in the morning), but again, this doesn't match the sensor record.
  3. Someone could have been hiding in the church until the cleaning staff left (which would have been circa 11:30 or midnight) went home. The person came out, and in doing so set off the alarm. Panicked, they left quickly knocking over the a plant in the sanctuary.

So in the morning I'll call the locksmith and talk to the staff and see what the cleaners may have seen. What an annoyance.



aaronorear said...

Or one of the cleaners took a nap under a table, woke up after the others had gone, set off the alarm on his or her way out and was too embarrassed to stick around to explain.

Or a critter got in and was inside a cabinet or beneath something, coming out after the cleaners had left, and eventually walking through the motion detector beams.

Or Jesus came back, chose your church for his midnight appearance, and now you are in SO much trouble.

Tay Moss said...

I talked to the cleaners. They last two nights a person has been coming late at night and telling them that he/she belonged here. So it looks like my theory was right. Steps are being taken to correct the situation.