How does one pocket-dial 9-1-1? It’s a legitimate question. I haven’t had a phone with buttons for a couple years, but when I did, I worried about accidentally calling the police all the time. When the phone was locked and you pressed a number (I think it was 1, but I’m not sure), a prompt would pop up asking if you wanted to make an emergency call. Then if you hit the call button it would dial 9-1-1. It was a two-button solution for anyone too panicked to unlock their phone in an emergency—and basically a trap for everyone else.
Fortunately for me, I never pocket-dialed 9-1-1. Unfortunately for Wesley Strom, a car thief in Washington State, he did. While stealing a car. Then he did it two more times while talking about stealing rims. Then a fourth time, while outright admitting to stealing two specific cars the cops were looking for.
It started when a dispatcher received a 911 call on March 14th that seemed to be accidental. They listened as a group of men had a conversation that seemed to be about stealing cars.
The phone was tracked to downtown Renton, where a Toyota 4Runner was later reported stolen.
About four days later the police received two similar 911 calls from the same phone, in which they heard two men talking about the stolen Toyota and a set of “stolen rims” on another car, which turned out to be a stolen Honda the police found abandoned later that day.
The fourth pocket call came on April 1st and the phone was traced to an apartment building in Renton Highlands and to 40-year-old Wesley Strom – the pocket-caller. He told police his phone accidentally dials 911 a lot and admitted to having been in stolen cars including the Toyota and the Honda.
It’s hard to imagine how much Strom must have been talking about stealing cars for all four of the pocket-dials to happen during conversations about car-theft. It’s also hard to imagine not finding some kind of permanent fix for pocket-dialing 9-1-1 after it happened the first time—like getting a flip phone.
Strom was arrested and charged. His bail is $70,000.