An iPhone repair facility in Elk Grove, California, doesn’t necessarily seem like a place that would be riddled with crime. Maybe the iPhones at the facility feel differently though. Over the last four months, the Elk Grove Police Department has received over 2000 calls to 911 from phones at this repair facility, and nobody seems to know why they aren’t able to stop it.
Between October 20 and February 23 the department logs show 2,028 calls originating from the facility, an average of 16 per day. The calls are generally short and either silent or with random background noise, but none have had any sort of emergency to report since the phones are just dialing the emergency number on their own.
The facility as well as the city have been working with Apple in an attempt to eliminate this issue though so far efforts have been unsuccessful. City representatives report a reduction in errant calls, but they’re still coming through. Officials have stated that public safety is not currently in any jeopardy due to phone lines getting blocked.
Currently may be the key word in that last sentiment because in January there was a time when all six of the city’s 911 phone lines, or trunks, were tied up with calls originating from the repair facility. The calls came in shortly after midnight on a Wednesday, which may not be the most pressing time for emergency response, though it still shows a problematic possibility.
Apple has suggested that perhaps the packaging used at the facility was
holding the iPhone wrong inadvertently pressing buttons, causing the phones to dial. New packaging was deployed… twice… though so far without completely eliminating the issue. The idea was floated to disable emergency calling on the devices at the facility, though they can’t legally do that due to FCC regulations. Other possibilities discussed include signal blocking sleeves in order to prevent the phones from completing calls, though that’s still just an idea at this point.
Offending devices have been narrowed down to basically all current Apple mobile products: iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, and Apple Watch.
Last Updated on March 28, 2018.