Monday, June 9, 2008

Cops nabbed champion 911 prankster

Salt Lake City Police have caught a 14-year-old girl accused of making more than 1,600 prank 911 calls over the past five months.

"Pretty much the whole office got calls," said dispatcher Angie Renteria, who once received six calls from the girl in one hour. The girl had a disconnected cellphone that worked only for 911 calls. Because the phone was disconnected, the dispatchers could not pinpoint its location, but they could see that the calls were all coming from the same number.

When she called, the girl sometimes appeared to hand the phone over to younger children, set it down, or simply sit quietly without speaking. She called mainly in the afternoon and evening. "I think she listened to us typing and asking questions because she would hang up as soon as we said we were going to send officers," Renteria said. At other times, the girl would "taunt" dispatchers, Lt. Dave Hoffman said, saying she could see officers outside her window.

Though disconnected cellphones do not provide exact coordinates, they do indicate to dispatchers a 150-meter area from where a call originates. When a dispatcher picked up a fake call around 2 a.m. Friday, she kept the girl on the phone. An officer headed to the area, and the two worked together, using background noise to pinpoint the location as the officer knocked on doors. Eventually, he found the house. Police seized two cellphones, and issued a juvenile citation on suspicion of 911 abuse, a misdemeanor. The girl's penalty could include paying the hefty cost of the 1,500 calls officers responded to. (info from The Salt Lake Tribune)

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