WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Alarm systems are designed to alert police when there's trouble at your home or office. Sometimes... that's not the case.
If your home or office alarm accidentally goes off, you'll find a warning hanging on your door. It's from Wilmington Police Department, telling you that if they have to respond to a false alarm a second time, you'll be charged $50.00.
"We answer 14,000 alarm calls a year. 99 percent of them are false. So, you know, we're like every other agency out there. We're having to do more with less. This is just one area that we were trying to improve upon. We could free up some time for police officers to do things out on patrol like fighting crime and not answering false alarms, and we just shouldn't be there." Captain Jeff Allsbrook said the first false alarm is a freebie, but every time after that, you'll be billed for the beeps.
One Wilmington resident thinks there's an easier solution.
"The Police can prioritize certain responders to stuff like that. Because, you know, if it keeps going off, then, just ignore it, you know, that's their problem." Jeremy Hall has an alarm system but says he's never accidentally tripped it.
Allsbrook understands that some people do have accidents, but said all the police ask is that you let them know if it's not a true emergency. Since November, 70 to 100 homes and businesses per week have been charged $50.00 each for false alarms. The fine money goes into the general fund for the city.
"We're not looking to make money on this, we're trying to reduce the number of false alarms and free up patrol time for our officers to be out there in the neighborhoods and fighting crime, doing things they should be doing." Allsbrook said WPD is still working out some kinks, and if you are billed for the first false alarm, you can appeal.
Captain Allsbrook said you will not be billed if your alarm system goes off because of a power outage or natural disaster.