PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The ongoing bomb threats at the University of Pittsburgh are beginning to take a toll.

“We’ve had 17 bomb threats, and they have escalated,” said university spokesman Robert Hill.

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Without going into specifics, Hill acknowledged that the cost of the bomb scares is also escalating.

“There is a cost,” Hill told KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano. “There’s the cost of the disruption itself — lost time in classes, lost time in research laboratories, lost time with our service mission. There is also the expense of the resources needed to search the facility.”

And some resources — from bomb-sniffing dogs to local city police to FBI investigators — are usually borne by taxpayers.

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Given the high cost of dealing with these multiple bomb scares, one option that is open to the university, once the culprit is caught, is to seek restitution from that perpetrator — in other words, to get that money back for the damages that he caused.

That could cost the perpetrator tens of thousands of dollars.

Three years ago, a former Pitt student called in two bomb threats at the Cathedral of Learning. Restitution for the two calls topped $8,000. That translates to $68,000 for the current hoax.

Carnegie Mellon University criminologist Dr. Alfred Blumstein says taxpayer costs escalate, too.

“If they have twice as many bomb scares this year as last year, they are going to double-up the number of people associated with bomb scares, so there would be a considerable taxpayer cost.”

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