BURLINGTON – Burlington police are investigating a fake "swatting" call from Monday on Wimbledon Circle. Swatting is a term used to describe when a prankster calls the police station and claims they're holding a hostage in order to bring out the SWAT team.
On Monday, someone called the police station claiming they had hostages and wanted money. The person gave the department an address on Wimbledon Circle, but when officers showed up, they only found a confused homeowner.
"The contact that we had with them they were very surprised initially to find out their address was involved," Lt. Brian Long with the department said.
WFMY News 2 spoke with the homeowner on Wednesday, but he did not want to talk on camera since the pranksters are still out there. He said he was outside in his backyard when he saw armed men in the woods. He came inside to call the police when he found out the armed men were the police. He said he hopes it's a prank and not someone coming after him or his family.
Long said the department is confident that it's headed in the right direction in potentially identifying those involved in making the false claims. He said these types of calls waste taxpayers' dollars and police officers' time.
"Unfortunately, when we get a service call like that, we have to respond as if it could be a real situation and we'll continue to do that, but it's very draining on manpower," Long said.
He said around 15 to 20 officers spent about six hours responding to the incident. He said he didn't have an exact estimate for how much it would cost taxpayers. WFMY News 2's sister station in Detroit reported "swatting" calls cost around $10,000 on average. This isn't just happening in Burlington, Detroit police responded to a "swatting" call on Tuesday.
Neighbors who live on Wimbledon Circle said it was odd to see such a police presence on their normally quiet street.
"I've been here 8 or 9 years, I've never had any big problems here," Gabriel Johnson said. "It's something that you don't want to hear about and I just hope that it was a prank that somebody did, that they shouldn't have, but not something serious."
The police department plans to take action against those who made the fake "swatting" call.