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98% of house alarm calls are false, and residents can be fined

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RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) - Many people choose to have house alarms as a sense of protection.

"I have it set up in such a way that it covers all the perimeters," said Cathy Harbert, who has an alarm system in her Richmond home.

But officials told CBS 6 News that house alarms also come with problems. Lt. Thomas Nolan, the acting Captain for Richmond's Division of Emergency Communication said around 98% of house alarm calls are false.

"It directs those officers to a location they don't need to be at," said Lt. Nolan.

Nolan said the number of false alarm calls has gone done from around 19,000 to 14,000 calls over the last five years, but it's still a problem.

"People have been actively working towards making sure people have proper contact information," he said.

Experts said homeowners can help fix the problem by becoming educated on false alarms and also make sure it's registered.

For example, "When they walk out the door to put the dog out, before the dog sets off the motion detector--things of that nature," said Bill Hobgood, of Richmond's Division of Technology.

Hobgood said in Richmond if there are three false alarm activations within six months the homeowner is fined $50. He said if the number is four or more, the fine goes up to $100.