ST. CLOUD -- The Stearns County Sheriff's Office responded to more than 500 burglary false alarms each of the last two years. Now, in an effort to reduce that number, county commissioners have adopted a false alarm ordinance.

A study of the sheriff's office determined there should be an ordinance which holds the property owner accountable to correct the problem.  It calls for educating property owners each of the first three false alarms in a calendar year.

Sheriff's Lieutenant Vic Weiss says from there, fines will be issued to the owner starting with a $75 penalty on the fourth false alarm an increasing for each subsequent false call for service.

Weiss says the ordinance is not meant to be punitive but rather cut down on the number of high-speed responses to false alarms.

Property owners can appeal any fines to the sheriff.  Weiss says their goal is to educate the property owners and prompt them to address the issue to eliminate the false alarms.

He says other jurisdictions across the state have seen a significant improvement after implementing similar ordinances.

The ordinance only covers parts of the county without their own law enforcement agency.  Weiss says it's up to each city's police department to determine how they want to handle alarm calls.