False alarms a problem in Clay County

Deputies responded to nearly 500 false alarms last month

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Alarm systems could be costing Clay County residents and keeping others from getting the help they need.

The Clay County Sheriff's Office said it responded to nearly 500 false alarms last month.

Now, with an increase of security systems in homes and businesses, deputies are speaking out, reminding residents about the consequences of false alarms.

The false alarm ordinance has been on the books since before 2002, and the Sheriff's Office said it's become such a problem that it's going to start giving out citations, which can carry fines up to $500.

"It can become very frustrating," said Capt. Ronnie Gann.

He said out of nearly 500 alarm calls deputies responded to in August, only one was a valid alarm. Those false alarms could keep deputies from responding to an emergency situation.

"When we receive an alarm, we send two units," Gann said. "Therefore, there could be calls for service that are on hold."

And as a taxpayer, that can cost residents. Gann estimates about $10,000 worth of resources are spent on false alarms a month. That can add up to more than $100,000 a year on non-emergencies.

Local security agencies said false alarms can be caused by malfunctioning alarm systems, weak or dead batteries triggering the alarm, the homeowner or business owner not knowing how to properly use the alarm, or wrong codes being entered into the system.

"We want alarm users to be responsible and have their alarm checked to avoid false response," Gann said.

Deputies said unregistered alarms are also a problem. They said some of the alarm service providers are not being compliant with the ordinance and not registering the alarms within 15 days of installation.

Deputies said that's why it's important for residents to contact their alarm service provider to make sure the homeowner's information is updated and also registered.