Prank calls are one of those childish activities that seem so hilarious when you’re a kid. Besides being annoying to the people inadvertently pulled into the shenanigans on the other line, it’s not often that I think punishment for prank calling is appropriate. But in the case of two sisters who called 911 pretending to be missing six-year-old Isabel Celis, I think the mischief of pranking crossed over into a prosecutable crime—even though the offenders themselves are only 9 and 11.
On Sunday, the insensitive little duo called 911 three times posing as the abducted girl, saying things like “he’s coming” and “I’m kidnapped” when asked what the call was about, then hanging up abruptly. They also gave the operator the name “Isabel” and hinted at a neighborhood that sparked an investigation that involved police manpower and resources. Clearly, their attempt at pranking colored way outside the lines of the standard “is your refrigerator running?” joking.
Isabel Celis has been missing since April. Her abduction was reported by her father, who says the screen was cut away from her bedroom window and his daughter was nowhere to be found. The randomness of her kidnapping means it could’ve just as easily been one of the two little girls behind the prank calling. Even though they’re just kids themselves, I think you’re never too young to have empathy for somebody else, especially a kid around your own age.
They didn’t know what they were getting themselves into, of course. Most kids don’t. But when authorities traced the call and dispatched more than 20 officers to comb the area where the call came from, they were outed. Their mother, who was none the wiser that her daughters were in another part of the house playing the cruelest game of “Let’s Pretend” and making faux reports to a 911 operator, apparently has her work cut out for her.
Prosecutors are trying to decide whether they’ll pursue the case against the sisters, who were arrested but couldn’t be held overnight in juvenile detention. There are very few instances that make arresting a set of 9 and 11-year-old sisters justifiable. But after costing the city thousands of dollars in emergency response expenses and doing something they basically had to know was wrong, I think some serious community service is in order.
In fact, it might be a nice tie-in to add them to the list of volunteers involved in the search for Isabel. Just to put it in perspective. Let them hand out flyers or post notices around their community. Something to put the reality of her disappearance and the importance of working together into perspective for them. They owe Isabel that much.
Do you think the girls deserve to the punished and if so, how?
Image via kiwanja/Flickr