Prankster Soaks Vancouver Hotels and Restaurants

Police in Vancouver are trying to find a telephone prankster who called a hotel and restaurants in the Canadian city and convinced guests and employees to turn on sprinkler systems.

Thousands of dollars in water damage resulted from the crank calls, reports the Vancouver Sun.

In the first incident, on Friday, a man called 20 to 25 rooms at the North Vancouver Hotel.

Alternately pretending to be a police officer, a sprinkler maintenance man or the hotel manager, the caller managed to convince six guests to set off sprinklers in their hotel rooms.

Police posted signs around the hotel warning guests, but the prankster struck again over the weekend.

Steven Chen, manager of Hotel Vancouver, says a total of 10 rooms were damaged.

Meanwhile, similar calls duped staff into turning on sprinklers at five fast food restaurants in North Vancouver, including two McDonald's.

Cpl. Peter DeVries of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police tells the newspaper major damage resulted at the restaurants.

He says police believe the calls came from the U.S., and may have been made through an Internet calling service. Police were unsure whether they were looking for one crank caller or several working together.

Those responsible, DeVries says, could face multiple charges of mischief to property, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

A series of similar incidents took place in the summer of 2009 when sprinkler pranksters struck at hotels in Alabama, Arkansas, Nebraska, Florida and California, causing property damage.

In one Arkansas incident, a telephone prankster posing as a sprinkler inspector convinced a Holiday Inn employee to set off the hotel's fire alarm, smash windows and break a sprinkler head, causing more than $60,000 in damage.

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