- The Washington Times - Friday, February 23, 2018

Police dispatchers in California have reported being inundated by an onslaught of false alarm calls originating from an Apple repair and refurbishing center near Sacramento.

In Elk Grove, south of the state capital, dispatchers have received roughly 1,600 bogus 911 calls from the local Apple facility since October 2017, or roughly 20 fake calls a day, CBS13 first reported Thursday.

“We’ve been seeing these calls for the last four months from Apple,” said police dispatcher Jamie Hudson. “We’re able to see quickly where the call is coming from, so when we get one from Apple, the address will come up with their location.”

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department Communication Center has similarly received about 47 calls from the repair center since Jan. 1, the CBS affiliate reported.

“To them, it sounds like people talking about Apple, or devices or generally about maintenance and repairs,” Sgt. Shaun Hampton said.

Authorities cautioned that the bogus calls could hinder law enforcement from handling legitimate emergencies.

“The times when it’s greatly impacting us is when we have other emergencies happening, and we may have a dispatcher on another 911 call that may have to put that call on hold to triage the incoming call,” Mr. Hudson told CBS.

“911 is a lifeline for everyone in our community, so having these lines open and available is paramount and so is getting this problem resolved,” added Jason Jimenez, spokesman for the Elk Grove Police Department. “At this point, public safety is not in danger, and we are working with Apple to resolve the issue.”

Apple said in a statement that the company is investigating the calls.

“We’re aware of 911 calls originating from our Elk Grove repair and refurbishment facility. We take this seriously, and we are working closely with local law enforcement to investigate the cause and ensure this doesn’t continue,” Apple said in a statement.

Absent an official explanation, Apple users have pointed to an iOS feature, “Emergency SOS,” that quickly places 911 calls from otherwise locked devices, including iPhones and smart watches. On newer Apple iPhones running the latest iOS operating systems, for example, pressing and holding the side button and one of the volume buttons for several seconds will automatically dial 911. The Apple Watch similarly calls emergency services if a specific button is depressed long enough, the MacRumors website reported.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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