For 20 months, New York City police say a caller had made more than 330 bogus emergency calls: officers down, bomb threats, anthrax scares. Officers could recognize the voice and had pinpointed the Harlem block the cellphone calls were coming from, but they couldn’t catch the phantom. Then, reports the Wall Street Journal, a legitimate 911 phone call last month from a familiar voice led police to Anthony Lloyd, 49. He has been indicted on charges of making false bomb and anthrax reports against a city building. Police used a combination of good ears and high-tech satellite tracking technology to arrest Lloyd.
With police being sent on more than 13,000 emergency runs generated through 911 calls each day, there is little tolerance for fake reports that eat up resources needed for real emergencies. Unfortunately, for the officers hunting the phantom caller, it wasn’t simply a case of plucking the caller’s cellphone number off the 911 system and then tracking down the person attached to the account. In this case, the caller was using a phone from a long-discontinued account, which wasn’t registered to anyone but still had 911 capabilities. When emergency calls were placed from this phone, a series of numbers came up on police computers instead of a phone number.