Kirkland, Wash., False Alarms Down 47 Percent

Somewhere today, police virtually guarantee, a house cleaner will open a door to a home on the first day on the job. The cleaner will have a key but will be missing something just as important: the code to the burglar alarm. "It's the sort of call...

"That takes up valuable resources and time," Jamieson said.

Issaquah has similar frustrations.

The police department issues bills to individuals with repeat false-alarm calls, but no city ordinance requires payment.

In the first half of this year, the city got 453 alarm calls and 70 percent were false, said Theresa Schaap, who handles the false-alarm bills for the Police Department. Of the false alarms, half were from businesses and 108 were from homes.

"People aren't being held accountable for false alarms," she said.

Even so, the police still go to every call, and Schaap dutifully sends out mail to repeat offenders about how to prevent false alarms.

"We're never not going to respond," Schaap said. "That's our job."