Regular readers of the Hilliard police reports in ThisWeek may notice that businesses frequently receive citations for excessive false alarms.

Regular readers of the Hilliard police reports in ThisWeek may notice that businesses frequently receive citations for excessive false alarms.

"Technically, they can have two false alarms (a year), and usually on the third one, they're given a warning, and from the fourth on, they can be given a citation," said Linda Haynes, administrative secretary for the Hilliard Police Department. "We have some companies and even some homes that have 20 per calendar year and some that never get any."

Violators are issued a $135 ticket, said officer Hyda Slone. And you can also receive a citation if you are a resident or business that doesn't have a permit for your burglar alarm. Permits cost $25 for two years (free to senior citizens), with a renewal notice mailed a month before they expire.

Haynes said there are 1,500 alarm permits on file in Hilliard. Police Chief Doug Francis said the permits are needed to provide police with contact information for someone who can shut off and reset their alarm.

When an alarm is triggered, the call center that the alarm company runs calls the business or property owner. They may also call the police department at the same time, depending on the alarm company's protocol. Or they may call both jointly, or the police if they can't get the owner.

"Our officers get to the scene generally within a few minutes, check the building from the outside first and the manager will show up and find out what set off the alarm," Francis said.

The reason for citing businesses for excessive false alarms has to do with the cost of responding to them, Francis said.

"Every time we get an alarm drop, we have to send two officers to respond to that alarm, no matter where it's at. We're talking on average 20 minutes per alarm per officer."

Adding to the personnel problem is the majority of the alarms are false, Francis said.

"An alarm is a great deterrent, and we encourage people to have alarms. The reason why we have this legislation is people have a tendency to make mistakes with their alarms they may set it off erroneously not realizing they've triggered a police response. Businesses don't train their employees on the use of the alarm system, or they won't give them the code."

Businesses get cited more than residents, Francis said, because there's more people involved.

In addition, some alarms are old and haven't been serviced properly, or motion sensors might be triggered by a non-human item. Power outages can also trigger false alarms, but the police won't issue a citation for an act of nature.

Issuing citations for excessive false alarms has cut down on the number of violations.

"The purpose behind the enforcement of the law is to ensure responsibility," Francis said.