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#159840 - 02/02/05 08:18 PM Phantom 911 Calls
trollog Offline
Member

Registered: 10/02/04
Posts: 273
Loc: San Diego California USA
This isn't a personal experience, but I heard this last night and wanted to throw it out there.. 2 seperate properties I know of have had trouble with the police showing up at odd times of the day because the police dispatch office recieved "911" emergency calls. One property is a house that is being remodelled- basically 98% demolished and rebuilt as a new home, the second is a rental property built in the early 50's with no active phone service (but wires are in the walls). The tenants at property #2 have opted to use their own cell phones rather than have phone service establihed through the "POTS" and have no phone # and no account with the local telco. At the remodel property, there is no phone, no service, no account with the local telco and no wires in the skeletal walls of the house, yet both properties have had multiple visits by the police, who explain the purpose of the visit as investigating a "911" emergency call. Is there any kind of short-circuit condition or telco-network problem that could cause this problem that anyone knows of? The police had no solid details- that is, no voice caller, no concrete reason to stop by and investigate- it is simply police policy here to investigate *all* 911 calls regardless. In fact they seem to take especially seriously the calls where no caller identifies themself on the line because, as law enforcement thinking goes, the caller may be incapable of speaking for whatever reason. Has anyone heard of such a problem? The two properties in question here are: 1. a remodel my father (general contractor) is doing, and 2. a property my mom (a property manager) manages..

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#159841 - 02/03/05 12:28 PM Re: Phantom 911 Calls
SolarPowered Offline
Member

Registered: 07/05/04
Posts: 615
Loc: Palo Alto, CA, USA
"Your Honor, the State contends that no search warrant was required, because we were responding to a 911 emergency call. ... Umm, well, no, we didn't know that there was no telephone in that house; could we have a recess and get back to you on how it was we claim we got the call?..."

[This message has been edited by SolarPowered (edited 02-03-2005).]

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#159842 - 02/03/05 01:02 PM Re: Phantom 911 Calls
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
There is a database which links the calling number to an address for 911 calls. These days with cellphones, cable, and VoIP telephone services it's not quite so simple as just using the address where a line is installed.

My guess is that the 911 center is receiving calls from phone numbers which have these addresses listed incorrectly on the database.

I'm not sure of the details on how to get this checked or corrected, but you might like to post over on Telecom Digest (newsgroup comp.dcom.telecom). I know for sure there will some folk in there who could go into much more detail.

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#159843 - 02/03/05 01:10 PM Re: Phantom 911 Calls
amp-man Offline
Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 144
Loc: Sacto, California US of A
A couple of thoughts:

1. is anyone paying a phone bill for a POTS line for either property? I'd assume not for the rental property. What about the remodel? If either one has an active line, is it possible that someone is stealing service--i.e., has tapped in at the pole-top terminal or a service pedestal and routed the service somewhere else. I've seen this done before, and because the thief is not connected to the address, they'd think it's great entertainment to call 911` and watch the response.

2. maybe the telco database is fouled up, as it's that info that's passed to the 911 system. It happens--a wrong address is linked to a phone number.

I'd get the coppers to talk with the phone company on this. If the telco hears "theft of service" they usually get serious real quick.

I find it hard to believe that the police would use a 911 call as cause to respond to a location. 911 calls are all logged electronically these days--not just voice recording but incoming phone number. Just like all our cell phones...

Good luck--please let us know how this pans out.

Cliff

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#159844 - 02/03/05 02:54 PM Re: Phantom 911 Calls
hbiss Offline
Member

Registered: 12/16/03
Posts: 893
Loc: Hawthorne, NY USA
Well it's not impossible, in fact it actually happened to me not once but twice. I had a line that had intermittant static and hum. Probably a fault to ground and also from tip to ring somewhere between here and the CO. Line couldn't be used and trouble was reported but it took the TELCO about a week to fix it.

Because of this condition the line would sometimes go off hook at random. Not random enough apparently because at 2:30AM my doorbell rings. Cops are walking around the house and want to know who called 911. I tell them nobody that it has to be a mistake. They kind of believe me and go away. I was half asleep and didn't bother to ask them where the call came from.

A couple of nights later almost the exact scenario. Middle of the night, cops at the door, 911 call. This time I question them about what number the call came from. It was the line that was out of service for a week! That thing dialed 9-1-1 all by itself TWICE. I took the cops in, handed then a phone and said see if you can make a call on this line. Case closed.

I'm not saying that this is what happened in your case but consider that some TELCO's may not disconnect a line, only restrict service when you request that the service be disconnected. Possible also that in such instances only 911 calls can be made much like an old cell phone that has been disconnected.

-Hal
_________________________
www.myphonetechs.com

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#159845 - 02/03/05 04:16 PM Re: Phantom 911 Calls
mkoloj Offline
Member

Registered: 01/03/05
Posts: 134
Loc: NNJ\NYC
I had an interesting situation at my house when I first moved in, I was pulling out some of the old rats nest phone and cable tv wiring and tapped onto the phonwe service with my butt set and what do I hear ? Someone's conversation that is definitely not in my house. I find the # and it is the old owners line that has been ported to their new address still connected to my house ! So I guess if I had called 911 from that line and hung up the police would have responded to either my house or the former owners present address dependant on what the TELCO has in their database.

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#159846 - 02/11/05 02:39 PM Re: Phantom 911 Calls
djk Offline
Member

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 1269
Loc: Ireland
The database mix up sounds the most likely scenario to be honest.

I'd say you should call the local telco and explain it. If you get no where, phone or call into the local police station and explain what's going on.

I'm sure the police don't want to be wasting time calling to wrong addresses for no good reason either.

It's possible but highly unlikely that a line fault could be pulsing out 9 - 1 - 1

Although, I could see in Europe where the pan-european emergency number is 1 1 2 .. it is quite possible that a line with physical damage can pulse out 1, 1, 2 all by itself.

We'd a major problem in Ireland when 112 was first introduced. 121 was the short code used for voicemail access on a major cellphone network. A lot of customers were accidently dialling 1121 or 112 and getting thru to the emergency services. The problem was so bad Comreg, the equivlant of the FCC moved ALL public voicemail access to a standard short code: 171 and has banned numbers starting with 12 on cellphone networks.

Btw: 112 is a pan-european number that was introduced to work along side the existing services in each country. So the UK and Irish 999 services and other EU country's equivlants still exist.

(999 as far as I know was the world's first Emergency Service number, first appearing in the 1930s .. it was specifically selected to be difficult to accidently dial as it required 3 bursts of 9 pulses. In the 1930s telephone lines suffered from a lot of physical faults as they were often unsheathed... so you didn't really want a few crackles to cause the switch to put you through to the police at random...)

While pulse dialling may be dying out, pretty much all modern digital switches will still quite happily accept pulsed digits, so broken cables can still potentially dial things.

112 will usually work on a mobile phone with no account or SIM card inserted and will even override the key lock!

And interestingly, if you dial 112 on a GSM based mobile phone in the USA it will connect you to the emergency services too!


[This message has been edited by djk (edited 02-11-2005).]

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