SOUTH PORTLAND — Coast Guard officials are warning the public of the consequences of making hoax distress calls in the wake of a Maine man pleading guilty to the offense.

Coast Guard officials say they respond to an average of 12 distress calls on a typical summer day in northern New England.

They say 76 of the 464 distress calls logged in 2014 were never resolved.

The warning comes after Owen Adair pleaded guilty last week to making a hoax distress call from the shore in Vinalhaven in September.

Authorities say the seven-hour search launched in response to Adair’s fake distress call involved 16 Coast Guard personal and cost more than $30,000.

“When our searches come up empty-handed, the hardest part is never knowing whether the distress was real or not,” said Lt. Scott McCann, Command Center Chief at Coast Guard Sector Northern New England. “We have a limited amount of boats, aircraft, and personnel. Responding to hoax calls puts our crews at risk and decreases our ability to respond to boaters who need our help.”

Penalties for such calls range up to six years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

If a minor makes the hoax call, parents may be held responsible.

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