General Crime

False Home Invasion Report Made by “Swatter” Targeting Family in Petaluma

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Petaluma police said a false residential burglary report caused an elementary school lockdown this afternoon and rattled a family living in the home. A male called Petaluma police around 12:20 p.m. to report a residential burglary in progress in the 1600 block of Cabernet Court in east Petaluma, Sgt. Ken Savano said. The caller said suspects wearing hoods and armed with handguns and baseball bats and were breaking into his home and he was barricading himself in the bathroom, Savano said.

The caller identified himself as one of the residents of the home, Savano said. The phone number the caller provided the dispatcher also matched the resident’s old phone number with the exception of the last digit, Savano said. A man, wife and two teen children live in the home, Savano said. Multiple armed police units responded and quickly set up a perimeter at the residence, and the Meadow Elementary School behind the residence was placed on lockdown, Savano said.

Police units then contacted the residents of the house who said no one called to report a burglary in progress and there were no problems, Savano said. Officers confirmed the house was safe and secure and are investigating the false crime report, Savano said. The school was released from lockdown. Preliminary information indicates the caller “trolled” the Internet for the name, address and phone number of one of the residents to pretend he was an actual victim of an in-progress residential robbery, Savano said. Savano said “swatters” also use such personal information to get a SWAT team to respond to a nonexistent violent crime.

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