German police on Saturday warned people who deliberately raise a false alarm or make hoax calls that they will come down hard on them.
In addition to criminal consequences, pranksters can reckon with considerable financial penalties, a survey by dpa has revealed.
For example, in Munich you can expect to pay 54 euros (60 dollars) per police officer per hour of wasted police time; if a helicopter has to be deployed, a whopping 1,700 euros per hour will be added to the bill.
In the state of Hesse, where the financial hub of Frankfurt is located, hoaxers are charged by the amount of time wasted, with a minimum penalty of 200 euros.
Lower Saxony, in the north of the country, charges 27 euros per officer per half-hour, up to a maximum of 10,000 euros.
Other states have detailed charge sheets for wasting police time, but this does not apply to genuine concerns: "Whoever makes a mistake and calls the police out of concern about a crime being committed need not worry about costs," a spokesman for the police in the south-western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said.