JONESBORO, IL (KFVS) - Police and sheriff's departments throughout the Heartland get hundreds of calls for help every day, but a handful of those calls come from tiny fingers randomly pushing buttons.
Police dispatchers say it's happening more and more these days. They say when parents get a new phone they give their old phone it to their kids to play with, but dispatchers say there's still plenty of life in old phones, and they're getting the calls to prove it.
"It's usually kids who have phones that have been disconnected and the parents give the phone to children and they hit certain buttons and call 911," said Union County Deputy Larry Clover.
It's an emergency feature: even a phone that's not in service can call 911, but in a child's hands that can mean trouble.
"They don't know what they've done, all of the sudden what they thought was a toy is speaking to the," said Union County Dispatcher Mike Dammerman.
Police say it happens very often and stretches their resources thin.
"It ties up an emergency line and then we're trying to send officers out basically on a wild goose chase for a child playing with the phone," said Dammerman.
When officers do track down the pint-sized offender - officers say mom and dad usually are shocked to learn their old phone could cause so much trouble.
"We just ask them to take the phone away or take the battery out," said Deputy Clover. "That makes the kids real mad because it doesn't beep anymore, but it makes our life easier."