A prank caller tricked workers at a Minnesota Burger King into smashing the windows of the restaurant to keep it from exploding, police said Saturday, mirroring similar deceptions at Burger Kings and other fast-food restaurants in other states in recent months.
Police said employees at the restaurant in the Minneapolis suburb of Coon Rapids got the call Friday night from someone claiming to be with the fire department. The caller said the restaurant could explode, so they needed to relieve the pressure. The manager and other employees believed the caller and smashed all the windows on the ground floor.
"Officers arrived and found that the manager and employees of the Burger King were smashing out the windows," Sgt. Rick Boone told the Star Tribune. "The manager explained they'd received a phone call from a male who identified himself as a fireman who said there were dangerous levels of gas in the building and they had to break out all the windows to keep the building from blowing up."
Boone said there was no immediate cost estimate for the damage. The restaurant was boarded up Saturday, and investigators were trying to identify the caller.
Someone placed a similar call to a Burger King in Shawnee, Oklahoma, on Thursday night, claiming there were high levels of carbon monoxide in the building. KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City reported that the window damage there was estimated at $10,000.
"It is a little upsetting that they would try to give the fire department a black eye," Thomas Larman, of the Shawnee Fire Department, told the station. "We would never do anything like that. We're here to serve the public, protect the public."
A similar call to Burger King in Morro Bay, California, about a purported gas leak in early February resulted in $35,000 in damage. Not only did employees smash the windows, but a manager went as far as ramming his car into the building. And police in Tucson, Arizona, say several similar prank calls were placed to Jack in the Box restaurants there in early February, fooling workers at one store. A similar incident happened at a Wendy's in Phoenix in late January.