On Monday, the Orange County Sheriffs Department warned Aliso Viejo, California, residents about a fake earthquake scare used to burglarize local homes.
Unidentified parties falsely alerted several homeowners that a major earthquake was imminent, likely in order to get people to leave their homes unattended. In a statement to a local Fox affiliate, the OCSD said:
On the evening of Sunday 7/7, OCSD dispatch received approximately four phone calls from residents of Aliso Viejo stating they had received a phone call saying there would be an 8.4 [magnitude] earthquake and that they should evacuate their homes immediately. Dispatchers provided the callers with information that Orange County does not have an alert system that would contact them prior to an earthquake, and that it may have been a scam.
“I think it’s terrible that people are capitalizing on people that are terrified of earthquakes,” said Debbie Crockett, an Aliso Viejo resident. “I think the people that are doing this should be prosecuted it’s horrendous and it has to be stopped.”
Fellow residents Bob and Ilene Rotstan chimed in. “No one can actually predict a quake either when it’s coming or how big it’s going to be so the whole idea to me is preposterous,” Bob said. “I hope they get caught and arrested.”
“I think it’s terrible and it’s deplorable,” Ilene said. “It’s a great way to get somebody to be fearful to leave their homes and then to fall prey victim to a robbery.” Fortunately, it does not seem that the hoax was successful; there have been no reported robberies connected to the bogus calls.