At approximately 9:15 a.m. the Sarasota County switchboard received a call from an undetermined number, a Sheriff’s Office report says. The male caller stated that authorities had 24 hours to determine which SCAT bus had a bomb on it, and then hung up, the report added.
Because of the Tropical Storm Isaac-related closures, SCAT busses were not running today, Aug 27. A thorough search of the bus depot and all buses was made, and no explosive devices were found, a Sheriff’s Office news release says.
As of late today, Sheriff’s Office detectives were trying to trace the origin of the call, the news release says, adding, “They suspect this may be another instance of ‘SWATing.'”
“SWATing” is a prank phone call to lure law enforcement to a fake emergency situation, the news release says. The FBI and other agencies that have investigated similar crimes say the hoax is committed by manipulating computers and phone equipment. Criminals spoof phone systems to make the calls appear to originate locally, or they hack gaming systems such as Xbox LIVE to select victims or send emergency messages over the Internet connections, the release adds.
Anyone with information on this case is encouraged to call Criminal Investigations at 941-861-4922. Callers also may leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 941-366-TIPS (8477), visit www.sarasotacrimestoppers.com or send a text message by texting TIP109 plus a message to CRIMES (274637).