False Alarms Mean Big Money To Some Iowa Cities

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By Katie Stinson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Des Moines and other cities are pulling in big money from false alarms.

The Des Moines Register reports Iowa's largest city collected $138,000 for nearly 2,400 billable false alarms last year. Des Moines started charging for false burglar alarms in 2008. The city can charge up to $500 for an initial alarm each year, then up to $750 for each following alarm.

Of the 3,806 burglar alarms that Des Moines police responded to last year, 90 percent were false.

Cedar Rapids also charges for false alarms. In fiscal year 2011, the city collected more than 125-thousand dollars from its burglar alarm service. That includes annual permit and false alarm fees. The city says more than 98 percent of alarm calls were false.

False alarms are an issue throughout the nation. A report by the Washington-based Urban Institute found that such calls take 20 to 40 minutes of an officer's time.

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