Origins: Just after midnight on
At the address they'd been sent to investigate, the officers found
What had happened to bring the police to the criminals' door? The ring members had called the cops on themselves. One of them had tried to dial 921, the first few digits of their leader's phone number, but had instead reached the police emergency number.
In October 2004, a quite similar incident occurred in the aptly-named town of Callaway, Florida.
When the investigating deputy arrived at
Were these crooks unusual? Far from it: crooks unwittingly call the cops on themselves with surprising regularity by connecting to 911 emergency services (and sometimes older cordless phones actually dial 911 themselves). Consider the following oddball cases:
- December 2008; Middletown, New York: A trio of thieves intent upon stealing car parts from an auto body shop in upstate
- April 2005; Rogersville, Tennessee: Hawkins County authorities were tipped off to two would-be burglars' plans to steal a refrigerator from a mobile home dealership when a cell phone one of the crooks was carrying in his front pocket relayed a 40-minute-long discussion about the upcoming heist to 911 dispatchers. (The phone was of a type that automatically calls 911 when the '9' key is held down.) Sheriff's deputies hid in the woods near the dealership and nabbed the hapless thieves as they exited one of the mobile homes with a refrigerator and set it on the ground outside.
- March 1997; San Diego, California: Trying to call Mexico, a drug dealer dialed 911 instead of 011. Though he hung up when the emergency services operator answered, a police patrol was dispatched to his address. Four bad guys were arrested and
42 lbs.of marijuana and 2 oz.of methamphetamine were seized.
- February 1996; Frederick, Maryland: A lad called 911 to report the shed he was growing marijuana in was on fire. He got
- August 1996; Los Angeles, California: Yet another failed attempt to call Mexico netted this drug dealer a visit from John Law. A gun, $15,000 and a
3 lb.bag of powdered cocaine were discovered at this fellow's house.
- February 1994; Laguna Nigel, California: A man programming his phone to speed-dial 911 (Huh? The number is that hard to remember?) was arrested when sheriff's deputies responded to his call. He and his two buddies appeared to be under the influence of crystal methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia was found in the apartment, so the three of them were placed under arrest.
- February 1990; San Diego, California: A phone programmed to automatically dial 911 when bumped or dropped gave this set of crooks away. Police discovered 250-300 marijuana plants growing in the house they'd been sent to investigate.
Last updated: 6 July 2011
Bobo, Jeff. "Burglary Suspects Tip Off Police with Accidental 911 Call." [Kingsport] Times-News. 5 April 2005. Core, Richard. "Man Programming Phone Calls 911." Los Angeles Times. 12 February 1992 (p. B1). Agence France Press. "Dial 911 for Emergency Drug Bust." 19 March 1997. Associated Press. "Woman Arrested After Mistaken 911 Call." 21 October 2004. Los Angeles Times. "Boy, Did He Get a Wrong Number." 30 August 1996 (p. B4). CBS. "Karma: Thieves Caught After 'Pocket-Dialing' 911." 28 December 2008. The San Diego Union-Tribune. "Phone Auto-Dials Cops." 5 February 1990 (p. B1). United Press International. "Police Credit 911 Call for Drug Arrests." 20 November 1986. USA Today. "Across the USA." 15 February 1996 (p. A8).