The latest false-alarm Amber Alert in California raises questions of whether such cases are leading to “alarm fatigue,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle. On Tuesday, authorities issued an alert for a 13-year-old girl who was reportedly kidnapped during a carjacking outside a Safeway store in Oakland. It turned out she was neither a teenager nor an abduction victim.
Law enforcement agencies are mindful of alarm fatigue. And though false reports happen, they’re rare: In the 12-year history of Amber Alerts in California, 14 were hoaxes and 11 were unfounded reports of abduction. Since 2002, the state highway patrol has activated 219 alerts, while denying more than 350 requests from police because they didn’t meet the state’s criteria. The victim must be 17 years old or younger and in “imminent danger of serious injury or death,” and the investigating agency must be able to confirm that an abduction took place.