California Highway Patrol probes 2nd plane crash hoax call in less than a month

Caller claimed plane crashed on SR-94

SAN DIEGO - The California Highway Patrol is investigating a report they received Wednesday about a plane crash that turned out to be a hoax -- the second such false report in less than a month.

On Jan. 24, CHP officials said someone called a dispatcher and claimed a plane with three people inside crash landed on state Route 94 at Lemon Grove Avenue.

After receiving the report, the dispatcher said, "Aircraft on fire, three injuries, westbound 94 at Lemon Grove Avenue," prompting officers to investigate.

When emergency crews arrived, there was no crash scene.

"Battalion 3 … sheriff's [department] checked the freeway and surrounding areas they are UTL (unable to locate). Advising this is potentially a hoax," the dispatcher said.

At about 7:54 a.m. Wednesday, CHP officials told 10News someone called dispatchers to report the same plane crash.

"When somebody calls in a fake emergency, there are ways to track them," said CHP Officer Brian Pennings.

Callers who call to draw SWAT teams and other law enforcement to a fake scene are referred to as "swatters," and authorities say it's a growing trend.

Recently, Hollywood celebrities have become some of the most conspicuous victims.

Last year, when someone reported a home invasion and shooting at the home of actor Ashton Kutcher, law enforcement officials responded with guns drawn.

Law enforcement officials have no way of knowing whether a call is real or fake, so they respond. Authorities say the hoax is no joke when it comes to how much a massive response can cost.

"This is a tremendous burden to the taxpayers. You have fire, you have police, you have highway patrol, you have sheriffs, you have medics," said Pennings.

If and when the person responsible for the recent local hoaxes is caught, the prank caller would face a fine and jail time.

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