Surrey teen arrested in costly prank calls to North Vancouver businesses

Duping people to trigger fire sprinklers caused $100,000 damage

A 16-year-old from Surrey is facing 19 charges in relation to several prank phone calls that resulted in about $100,000 in damage to North Vancouver businesses last month.

The offences took place from Feb. 11-13, when the teen allegedly made calls from an internet phone to the hotels and restaurants. North Vancouver RCMP were first alerted when an employee at a North Vancouver hotel called for assistance.

Later, police believe the same prank caller shifted his attention to fast food restaurants in the area, including Denny’s, A&W, McDonald’s and Subway.

Posing as a Fire Marshal, the caller convinced restaurant employees to activate sprinklers and foam suppression systems. The McDonald’s Restaurant at Marine Dr. and Pemberton Ave. reportedly suffered major water damage. The A&W on Marine Dr., meanwhile, was left with fire retardant foam all over its kitchen equipment.

North Vancouver RCMP said calls to hotel rooms were effective, in part, because they are filled with foreign tourists who may be less aware the request was unusual.

The teen, who is known to the police for similar offences, was arrested in Nanaimo on a warrant stemming from an unrelated investigation in Surrey.

North Vancouver RCMP are recommending 19 counts of false messages under the criminal code that makes it an offence to place phone calls or initiate other communications that create an alarm or nuisance.

He will be held at a youth detention centre until he appears in court to answer to the North Vancouver charges.

~with files from Greg Hoekstra