COLUMBIA, Mo. - Burglary alarms in homes and businesses can help police catch the bad guy when they work properly, but Columbia police said the alarms create more problems than solutions because 98 percent of them are false.
"Anytime a police alarm is dispatched, there's two officers that are automatically dispatched," said Lt. Barbara Buck with the Columbia Police Department.
Two officers is the minimum. If the alarm is for a bigger property or an industrial area, even more officers could be sent, which means fewer cops patrolling the streets.
"When we have officers dispatched to something that's a 98 percent false alarm, that means that those officers aren't available to address problems in the community, investigate crimes and other services that the citizens are calling in about," Buck said.
Joint Communication officials said in the last year, police police responded to 2,899 false alarms. In the last month, they responded to 230 and 49 in the last week alone.
"We only have so many officers per sector, so if we are pulling officers from other sectors, that means that sector has less police officers that can be available to go to crimes," Buck said.
Columbia city ordinance requires the person or business generating more than 12 false alarms in a year or three false alarms in any 30-day period pay a $100 and they'll be charged with a misdemeanor.
Buck said the city is working on a new ordinance that would change the way these incidents are handled. ABC 17 News contacted city officials Thursday to see if this new ordinance is in the works and what it includes, but did not hear back.
She said it's the citizens responsibility to make sure this doesn't happen.
"Know how to use it properly," Buck said. "Work with your alarm company, keep it maintained to where it is working well."
Police said pets walking by motion detectors in the house and people not knowing how to properly activate and deactivate the systems are common ways false alarms are triggered.