Pranksters are calling restaurants in several areas of the U.S., convincing some fast food outlet employees to smash windows to prevent various kinds of catastrophes from happening at their place of employment.
In the latest incident, a prank caller in Minnesota persuaded the manager and several employees of a Burger King fast food outlet to smash the restaurant’s windows to avoid an impending gas explosion.
As reported by the Chicago Tribune, a Burger King fast food outlet in Coon Rapids, Minneapolis, was hit by the prank caller on Friday. Convincingly posing as a fire official, the caller told employees of the restaurant to smash the windows. Reportedly, the “fire official” told them that the rising gas pressure was threatening to cause an explosion in the restaurant.
In the video below, recorded by customers at the SuperAmerica store next door, employees can be seen kicking and hitting at the windows of the fast food outlet in an attempt to smash them.
According to Captain Tom Hawley, police were dispatched to the scene Friday night after a gas station employee called them to report what appeared to be an act of vandalism in progress.
When police officers arrived at the Burger King they were told by the restaurant manager that she had just received a phone call from someone identifying himself as an official of the fire department. She said the person seemed to have a working knowledge of commercial fire safety systems, which he had asked her to check.
Hawley said that according to the manager, the caller sounded as if he were remotely monitoring the situation inside the fast food outlet and that he told her he could tell the “gas pressure inside the building was rising.”
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) April 10, 2016
Reportedly the prank caller continued to give the Burger King manager “updates” on the situation and eventually persuaded her the gas build up was reaching excessive levels in the fast food outlet. His final warning was that the restaurant was in danger of exploding, unless employees smashed the exterior windows to relieve the pressure.
Convinced that the “fire official” must be right, the manager asked the few customers present in the restaurant at the time to leave and then she and three other employees reportedly ran to their cars to grab tire irons and other objects suitable for smashing the exterior glass.
The Star Tribune quotes Sgt. Rick Boone as saying Saturday that officers arrived and found the manager and employees smashing out the windows.
Boone said: “The manager was frantic and actually believed the building was going to blow.”
According to Hawley, by the time police officers arrived on the scene to answer the vandalism report, the Burger King employees had smashed almost all the ground-floor windows of the fast food outlet, causing several thousand dollars in damage. He added that one employee had suffered minor cuts and was treated by medics on the scene.
Reportedly the police then called firefighters to the restaurant to check the building, but officials found no trace of a gas leak, leading police to believe the call was a hoax or prank.
On Saturday morning, the smashed windows of the Burger King were reportedly still boarded up, but the restaurant was open for business as usual.
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) April 10, 2016
Now police are attempting to trace the origin of the prank call. While comparing notes with police in other cities around the U.S., it was discovered that similar prank calls had been made to other fast food chains in recent months, including fast food outlets in Oklahoma and Morro Bay, California, all resulting in thousands of dollars of damage.
So there’s a total of at least 3 fast food joints which fell for the fake smash-your-windows emergency caller. https://t.co/Kdz6H05tZr
— Carl (@EtTuCarl) April 10, 2016
According to ABC News, police in Tucson, Arizona also said several similar prank calls had been made to Jack in the Box restaurants in early February, fooling at least one worker. A similar hoax was played on a Wendy’s in Phoenix in late January.
Coon Rapids police stressed that they would “never call a residence or business to ask them to take action of any kind,” saying calls for service come via the 911 dispatch system and that only then do fire, police, and emergency responders get involved.
Police advised the public, “In the event you receive a call from someone claiming to be from a police or fire agency asking you to take some kind of action, consider it a prank and call 911 immediately.”