July 19, 2016 - 9:00 PM
VERNON - Police are sending a message after the latest incident of swatting — deceiving law enforcement with a phoney call — led to major disruptions at a Vernon mall.
The prank resulted in numerous employees and patrons being evacuated from the Landing Plaza for several hours while police investigated. But it's not the first time emergency officials have been 'swatted.' Last year in Kamloops, several schools were locked down due to swatting pranks involving fake bomb threats. The same thing happened in Toronto, and a host of other cities.
Sgt. Mike Moyer of Vernon RCMP says a youth was identified as the source of the prank call in Vernon and won't be let off the hook for the crime.
Given the seriousness of the incident, Moyer says they will be recommending criminal charges, including mischief and possibly more, to Crown counsel.
“Obviously, it scares a lot of people, especially with what’s going on worldwide,” Moyer says. “We, as the police, take these calls very seriously.”
Significant resources were deployed to the incident, including specialized RCMP units, the Vernon Fire Department, B.C. Ambulance Services and bylaw. Numerous businesses were forced to shut down, equating to thousands of dollars lost, Moyer says.
And while the threat was a hoax and no one was hurt, Moyer says they want to make it clear pranks like this one are a crime and will not be tolerated.
“We want to send a strong message,” Moyer says.
Crown counsel will ultimately decide whether or not to approve the charges and proceed with prosecution against the minor, whose identity is protected under the Youth Act.
Because the investigation remains ongoing, Moyer would not comment on the youth’s motive for making the prank call.
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