Guy Accidentally Tells Smart Home Device to Call the Cops on Him

2 minute read
| News

A smart home device recently alerted the police to a domestic disturbance. John Martellaro brought up this possibility. I wrote about it soon after. Now it’s actually happened. In an accidental kind of way, a guy used a smart home device to call the cops on himself. ABC News originally reported the story.

Smart home device call the cops

In a surprising twist of fate, a guy used a smart home device to call the cops … on himself (Image Credit: LSPD First Response)

A Surprising Development

In this case, Eduardo Barros was house-sitting with his girlfriend and her daughter in a residence in Tijeras, New Mexico. That’s 15 miles east of Albuquerque. The couple got into an argument that turned physical.

During the altercation, Mr. Barros allegedly pulled out a firearm. He threatened to kill his girlfriend. At some point, Mr. Barros asked his girlfriend, “Did you call the sheriffs?” That’s all it took for the smart speaker, hooked up to a surround sound system inside the home, to call the cops.

You know, this would be comical if it weren’t such a serious situation. It reminds me of a scene in Cars 2. Mater says, “Dadgum” and the smart technology spies installed in him misunderstands. The computer thinks he’s asking to fire the guns, and does exactly that.

In this real-life story, Mr. Barros effectively asked the smart home device to call the cops.

A Tense Standoff

What happened next wasn’t surprising at all. A crisis negotiation team was called in. So was the SWAT team. After several hours, police were able to resolve the standoff and take Mr. Barros into custody. Mr. Barros is facing a number of charges.

The authorities accused him of possession of a firearm or destructive device by a felon and aggravated battery against a household member. Other charges include aggravated assault against a household member and false imprisonment.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III told ABC News that the smart home device potentially played a role in saving Mr. Barros’s girlfriend’s life.

The unexpected use of this new technology to contact emergency services has possibly helped save a life. This amazing technology definitely helped save a mother and her child from a very violent situation

The Role of Smart Home Devices in Domestic Disturbances

This strikes home the possibility of smart home devices reporting crimes in progress. Some might call this undue intrusion, but when you purchase such a device, you need to realize the implications behind something that’s always listening for your commands.

This capability could definitely prove useful in other domestic assault cases. While the call placed to 911 was accidental in this case, I hope it reminds potential victims of their options. If unable to physically get a phone out and dial 911, someone could discreetly tell their smart home device to do so.

They wouldn’t even have to say anything else. The device would place the call, dispatchers would hear what was happening. Then the 911 dispatcher could send law enforcement officers to defuse the situation.

5 Comments Add a comment

  1. geoduck

    Very mixed feelings on this. Yes it’s good that this worked out. Yes it is an out for people who find themselves in danger (I wonder if “Siri call 911” would work? I don’t have the guts to try. On the other hand it does remind us that these things are always on, always listening, always monitoring.

    Here’s a thought. Use a system like this to monitor people under house arrest. If it gets too quiet it would ask “Are you OK” and if it gets no answer, it would call 911.

  2. Lee Dronick

    “One more joke and then I will quit. Stop me if you heard this one. Siri and Alexa walk into a biker bar…”

    ‘No more! Your killing me!’

  3. Michael33rs

    I have very serious reservations regarding these home devices myself. What if you’re watching a movie with a violent scene in it and the listening device “mistakenly” calls the cops, and they show up while this movie is playing, perhaps loudly with lots of folks having home theater systems nowadays, and the cops get to the door hearing lots of noise and they bust in? I can see this being a real problem.

  4. davidneale

    So what happens if you’re watching TV, say one of the CSI series, and one of the actors shouts, “Quick, call the cops!”?

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