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REGISTERING HOME ALARMS CAN SAVE MONEY

A false alarm at your home could cost you money, especially if you haven't registered with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Alarm subscribers in the unincorporated areas and cities patrolled by the Sheriff's Office are required to register. The idea behind the ordinance, passed earlier this year, is to decrease false alarm calls that require a response. Each response takes at least an hour and could tie up more than one deputy.

"Well over 90 percent of the alarms we investigate are false alarms," said Sheriff Jim Coats.

Applicants can register online by going to the Pinellas County sheriff's Web site at pcsoweb.com and clicking on the "SHARP" icon. Registration forms also are available at the sheriff's North District Station in Dunedin, the Central District Station in Largo and at the city halls of the contract cities.

"Well over 10,600 alarm subscribers have registered, but we know there are thousands of others who have not registered,'' registration program coordinator Sgt. Larry Nalven said.

Alarm subscribers who are registered receive two free passes if they experience two false alarms during the year. After the two free passes, they are subject to a fine schedule from $75 to $500 per false alarm.

Subscribers who have not registered do not receive any free passes and are subject to a much steeper fine schedule. "The idea is not really to generate revenue, but to get the alarm holders to fix the problem,'' Coats said.

For information or to register, see the Pinellas County sheriff's Web site at pcsoweb.com, e-mail sharp@pcsonet.com or call Sgt. Larry Nalven at (727) 582-2870.

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