Prank call to NC hotel causes thousands in damage

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Credit: WWAY

LELAND, N.C. — A prank call to a hotel in Leland prompted a hotel guest to set off the sprinkler system, triggering two hours of flooding and causing thousands of dollars in damage.

The pranksters have targeted hotels across the country. The prankster calls a hotel guest’s phone and tells the guest there is an emergency at the hotel. The caller then provides detailed instructions on how to activate the sprinkler system or break windows inside the guest’s room.

According to WWAY-TV, Douglas Bartalone was staying at the Best Western in Leland over the weekend while visiting his son and granddaughter. About 1:30 a.m. Saturday, he got a call in his hotel room.

“‘We’ve got an emergency situation. This is Stan from the front desk,'” Bartalone told WWAY the caller told him. “Emergency situation? I said, ‘It’s 1:30 in the morning.’ He said, ‘Well we’ve got a gas leak. We need you to disengage the water sprinkler system in your room. This is a very serious matter. It’s a gas leak.'”

Bartalone told WWAY the prankster gave him specific directions on how to pull the pins on the sprinkler.

“It’s changed my outlook on everything,” Bartalone told WWAY. “Like I said, I’m just speechless right now.”

The sprinklers flooded the first two floors of the hotel for about two hours, causing thousands of dollars in damage.

Police said Bartalone would not be charged, but he told WWAY he is concerned he could face a civil suit from the hotel. A hotel representative said they are not sure if they will sue.

Read more: WWAY