Local police say they respond to false alarms more than you think

WASHINGTON — It’s a mistake that could cost you hundreds of dollars if you aren’t careful or prepared.

Prince William County police say they respond to more alarm calls than traffic crashes, domestic incidents or suspicious people. In 2014, police responded to more than 12,000 alarm calls, but only 58 were valid calls.

This holiday season, they are asking that residents and businesses in the county take some simple steps to prevent false alarm calls.

Motion detectors are a common cause of false alarms. Police say you should always ensure that hanging or moving decorations will not activate motion detectors, especially when heating systems turn on. You should also be familiar with where your motion detectors are and what area they cover.

Also, make sure that decorations don’t interfere with window or door contacts for your alarm system and that nothing outside can potentially come loose and activate your alarm system’s glass-break detectors.

Prince William County police also want homeowners and businesses to remember that there will be many people either home from college or seasonal workers who may not know how to use the alarm system. They ask anyone with a key to a home or business knows how to use the system and knows how to cancel a law enforcement response. They also recommend retraining college students who may have forgotten how to use the alarm system while they were away at school.

False alarms consume a lot of police resources and jurisdictions across the D.C.-metro area have enacted measures to deter false alarms.

In most area counties, homeowners and businesses are required to register their alarm system with the county government. Generally, fees range from $10 to $30.

Depending on the jurisdiction, the first couple of false alarms in a year come without penalty, but after that, fees can rise up into the thousands.

WTOP’S Dennis Foley contributed to this report

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