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False alarms on home-security systems now carry bigger fines

A 2005 state law allowed cities to increase fines for false burglar alarms, and Austin started charging slightly larger fines three months ago, said Anna Weaver, who supervises the police department’s alarm unit.

The Austin City Council will vote Thursday to add those changes to a city ordinance.

At least 300 other cities and counties have penalties for false alarms because “they’re a huge problem,” said Jim Cogswell, president of the Maryland-based False Alarm Reduction Association.

“In some communities, as many as 80 percent of homes have security systems, so even one false alarm for each is a drain on police and fire departments.”

Austin police responded to 23,800 false alarms last year. Homeowners used to be charged $50 for six or more false alarms in a year.

Category: Home Security