Saturday, February 2, 2008

Firefighters used fake prize to nab 911 prank caller
who was exercizing "lazy" firefighters

Knoxville, Tennessee Fire Department investigators used a ruse of their own to nab a man suspected of making a series of bogus emergency calls.

After receiving a false report of a gas leak in December, 2006, firefighters compared notes. They confirmed 15 fake 911 calls over a two-month period, including four house fires, six car crashes, plus medical emergencies, all coming from the same cellphone.

They called the number and left a message saying the phone's owner had won a gift card from a major retailer. Within an hour, Fire Capt. Brent Seymour received a call back from a man identifying himself as the phone's owner. "He willingly gave his name and address," Seymour said. "I told him I would be sending the gift card." But that wasn't quick enough to suit the man. He wanted the gift card in time for Christmas, so investigators set up a meeting for that evening.

Seymour said he waited only a few minutes in a parking lot before suspect Jason Harms arrived, identified himself as the gift card recipient, and was arrested.

Seymour said Harms' first words were, "You can't prove it." But Judge Charles Cerny found the evidence strong enough to send 15 felony counts of making false reports to a grand jury. Harms said he was doing taxpayers a favor by drawing otherwise lazy firefighters out of their cozy fire halls. (info from Associated Press)

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