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Are 911 prank calls on the rise in San Antonio? Here's what officials have to say.

Penalties for abusing the 911 system include fines and jail time.

SAN ANTONIO — Every week night while most of the city sleeps, Martin Olivares is on the streets.

The photographer for Metro Video News shoots video of most major overnight crime and crash scenes in the San Antonio area.

But Olivares said lately he has been spinning his wheels.

He has been seeing an increase in the number of prank calls for emergency services.

In a Facebook post in his SkyNewsSA group, Olivares said "The locations of these false reports have been targeting the 410 & 90/151 areas."

Olivares said he has responded to a number of the false calls and found nothing, but he has listened to many more situations that were pranks, wasting the valuable time of first responders.

Olivares said one of the most egregious cases was the first week of April.

Online records indicate San Antonio Police were called to a northwest side restaurant at Loop 410 and Cinema Ridge about 9:15 p.m.

Police were told there was an active shooter inside the business, that five people had been shot, and that the caller was hiding in a restroom.

First responders who raced to the call found calm customers and business as usual.

Olivares wrote "The caller later said he placed several bombs underneath the steakhouse." That also turned out to be false.

The Fusion Center is the division of the police department that handles sensitive and high tech investigations.

Olivares said the unit has been monitoring the incidents.

The San Antonio Fire Department said they routinely get calls from people with good intentions who may think something has happened, however most of the time the incidents turn out to be nothing or very minor.

Fire spokesman Joe Arrington said "Malicious intent calls, while very uncommon, do happen from time to time, but again they are extremely rare. That being said they are not something we track, so there aren't any stats available."

San Antonio Police said anyone found guilty of abusing the system could face a fine of no more than $2,000 and/or up to 180 days in a county jail. They urge everyone to treat the 911 emergency system with respect, providing the following statement:

"We have not seen a rise in these type of calls. We strongly discourage anyone from misusing the 911 and non-emergency lines. These lines are specifically designated to assist individuals during emergency incidents. 

Below you will find the Texas Penal Code law in reference to these type of incidents.

Texas Penal Code - PENAL § 42.061. Silent or Abusive Calls to 9-1-1 Service
(a) In this section "9-1-1 service" and "public safety answering point" or "PSAP" have the meanings assigned by Section 771.001, Health and Safety Code .

(b) A person commits an offense if the person makes a call to a 9-1-1 service, or requests 9-1-1 service using an electronic communications device, when there is not an emergency and knowingly or intentionally:

(1) remains silent;  or

(2) makes abusive or harassing statements to a PSAP employee.

(c) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly permits an electronic communications device, including a telephone, under the person's control to be used by another person in a manner described in Subsection (b).

(d) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor."

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