Suspected Robber Caught After 911 Butt-Dial

Robber 911 Butt-Dial
An errant phone call led police to a suspected-robber who had apparently stolen items in his car, as well as tools commonly used for breaking into houses. Photo by Rob Bayer/Shutterstock

BRANCHBURG, N.J., Sept. 6 (UPI) — A robbery in New Jersey was halfway-solved before being reported after the would-be criminals accidentally butt-dialed 911.

After an investigation, police connected Scott Esser, 42, to burglaries in at least two other New Jersey towns as a result of the call.

The county communications center received what it believed was an errant open-line phone call, often referred to as a butt dial, Somerset County Commissioner Geoffrey Soriano told the Courier-News.

Dispatchers listened to male voices discuss a burglary, however did not know where they were located and gained no details from the call. Later that night, officers in Branchburg responded to report of a home burglary that included a break-in, clearing of dresser drawers and the disappearance of more than $1,300 in jewelry.

Esser’s cell phone company confirmed for police that the call’s originating number was assigned to him. A county task force gave approval for surveillance of Esser, who was followed through three towns before being stopped by police on the Garden State Parkway, where he was arrested.

Police obtained a search warrant on the car, which was towed and searched — turning up miscellaneous pieces of jewelry, electronic devices, a Playstation 4, a .38 caliber handgun, United States bonds worth approximately $11,300 and burglary tools.

Esser was charged with the burglary in Branchburg, as well as others in Stafford and Berkeley Heights. He is currently being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.


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