Dear PoPville – What can I do about non-stop car alarms?

Dear PoPville,

I’m writing in because I’m at my wit’s end and I’m hoping that your readers will be able to help. I live in Woodley Park, about 2 blocks south of the zoo on Connecticut, and for the last 3 hours, a car alarm on the street in front of my building has been going off every few seconds. It’s a blaring car alarm, that will go off for a few minutes, then stop, then go off again within seconds when another car drives by it. Ordinarily, I’d just leave my apartment, but I work from home, and I’ve got a ton of work to do today. I’m using ear plugs so I can at least concentrate enough to get my work done, but I’ve got two business calls to take today, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to crawl into the closet to keep the other people on the call from hearing it.

I’ve lived here for three years, and I’ve had this happen before, but never for this long. Unfortunately, since it’s a car on the street and not in our building’s lot, I’m pretty sure it’s not a neighbor’s car. I’ve looked on various forums, but the consensus seems to be that DC police won’t be able to do anything. Short of leaving a note on the windshield and waiting until they come back, is there anything I can do?

23 Comment

  • This happened the other night outside my apt on 11th st nw. A car parked in the lot there alarm went off at about 5:30 am (on a sunday morning). It was the kind that just honks and flashes the lights. The honking got longer and longer. then it would stop, and start all over again. Eventually after a while I guess it stopped, or someone finally made it stop. But, I really wanted to throw a rock through that car… not that it would have helped…

  • There isn’t anything you can do legally. But if you wanted to shut it off this might help

  • leave a note under a brick placed on the hood that says”the next one goes in the window if you alarm goes off again”

  • I think we suffered through the same car alarm. It goes off on a nightly basis – alleyway between fairmont/euclid and 11/13th nw.

    • From the OP:

      I live in Woodley Park, about 2 blocks south of the zoo on Connecticut…

      That must be one loud car alarm to reach 11th/13th and Euclid, and Woodley Park.

    • Allison

      Oh man Kevin I know the one you’re talking about. I live at 14th and Fairmont and I can hear that sucker all the freaking time. Best part about car alarms? No one actually thinks your car is getting stolen, and obviously it hasn’t alerted the owner either! They should just be banned.

  • You can call the police due to noise disturbance. DC DOT/DMV may be motivated to tow it to collect fees on the car.

  • Pretty sure you can’t do anything except leave a note.

    If you try to disable the alarm, then someone may think you’re trying to steal the car and call the cops. I’m doubtful that the cops will be sensitive to the: “I HAD to shut this car alarm off so I could have two quiet business calls at home” story.

  • I parked in front of this car yesterday when I went to visit the zoo… Someone had left a pretty rude/threatening note on the windshield.

  • This has happened to me before. SO annoying. There is pretty much nothing you can do, but if it makes you feel better, people on the phone probably can’t hear it. I work from home and I did a test call with a colleague because I was afraid to call clients, but my coworker couldn’t hear the alarm at all. So it was just annoying to me. Haha.

  • DC police *can* respond, but they won’t take a call unless the alarm is going off while you’re on the phone. And then if/when they show up, the alarm has to be going off for them to tow/disable. Those intermittent alarms are kinda tricky.

  • My standard advice – leave a note on the windshield – written large with Crisco or butter. No damage but really annoying to clean off.

    • Yes! I saw a MD-license-plate-car leaving my neighborhood last Sunday with “NO PARKING” and “DO NOT PARK HERE” written all over the windows in butter. The woman inside looked horribly ashamed. 🙂

      • Shoe polish also works well for leaving notes on glass, and usually comes with a handy sponge applicator on the container, so it writes just like a pen 🙂 Handy trick I figured out while watching a guy write starting bid prices and lot numbers on windshields at an auto auction. Comes right off with soapy water or an ice scraper. A dry-erase pen is another great choice, if you need more room for your windshield novella or handy illustrations 🙂

  • I check for an unlocked door, and upon finding one, I pop the hood and pull the negative battery cable. I don’t care if people do a double-take. When they hear the glorious sound of silence and see me walk away without rifling through the car, all becomes pretty self-explanatory.

    • Yeah, cause cars with active alarms are also unlocked.

      Back to the drawing board…

      • Perhaps it is unlocked because someone has already broken into the car. Maybe it’s a cheapo aftermarket alarm that isn’t tied to the door locks. I don’t really care what the alarm norm is. I’m just saying what I do.

  • Agreed with the whole note-under-a-brick idea. I had one of those left on my car once, and it motivated me to take the car to Best Buy and get the entire alarm taken out altogether and just keep the remote door lock thing. I was never able to get a spot near my house, so I never knew the alarm that went off every time a truck went past was my new (used) car. Alarms are pretty worthless anyways – I’d never bother someone messing with a car because the alarm was going off. Might encourage him / her to deactivate it.

  • I had one near me in San Francisco that was bad, and finally one guy beat the crap out of it with a baseball bat. All the neighbors silently watched and then disappeared back into their homes to go back to sleep. No one had seen a thing.

    I love the Crisco idea. On hot summer days, a piece of chewed gum stretched thin and laid along the wiperblades is always fun, too.

  • I’ve had many a fantasy of hurling a brick with a note attached on those cars with the incessant alarms. Pure. Evil.

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