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Police urge proper disposal of old phones after spike in calls from devices without SIM cards

Click to play video: 'Caller asks 911 operator for ‘emergency ride services’ to Toronto’s Union Station' Caller asks 911 operator for ‘emergency ride services’ to Toronto’s Union Station
WATCH ABOVE: Peel Regional Police posted the call on social media Thursday, reminding the public to only call 911 in cases of immediate danger or if a crime is in progress. (Nov. 21) – Nov 21, 2019

Peel Regional Police are encouraging the public to properly dispose of old cellphones after the service’s 911 communications centre saw a spike in calls from devices without SIM cards — something that can mean crucial lost minutes for call takers.

“In the 10 minutes I was up [in the communications centre] … they received several phone calls. A majority of them — at least a dozen — were from children playing with phones,” Const. Akhil Mooken told Global News Thursday afternoon.
“[Family members] gave the old phone to a young child to play with or whatever the case may be. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t realize that even if the SIM card is removed from the phone, the phone still has that ability to call 911.”
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READ MORE: ‘It’s not like television’: Why you should know exactly where you are when calling 911

In many of the instances, Mooken said, younger children don’t understand 911 and how the centre is for urgent situations.

“The phone line stays open. We [are] a police service and our communicators need to call back to make sure there is no actual emergency,” he said.

“Sometimes it results in our officers having to go to where the phone is registered to or was registered to … so that potentially could tie up officers and our communications.”

READ MORE: 911 caller asks for ‘emergency ride’ to catch train at Toronto’s Union Station

When it comes to cellphones without SIM cards, Mooken encouraged people to be cognizant of where older and unregistered phones are stored and handled.

“When there isn’t one registered, it kind of ties up our operators a little bit more because they have to start calling around to the different phone companies,” he said.

“We only have so many 911 call takers, so to take one away to try and track down the owner of a phone it really is detrimental to somebody that has an actual emergency.”

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