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Wheeling police sent alert message in error

Updated: Friday, February 21 2014, 04:55 PM EST

By: Crissy Clutter


Some neighbors in the Elm Grove and Woodsdale areas of Wheeling were alarmed Thursday night when they received an automated message from Wheeling police.

The message alerted them to suspicious activity and also informed them about a suspicious person wearing a ski mask allegedly in the Overbrook area.

Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger says the message was sent out citywide in error.

“The message that was sent out last night was not clear, but was intended for our Crime Watch program,” Schwertfeger said.

“The message was intended to tell people we do have a suspicious person, but the primary message was to remind folks to call 911 when you do see suspicious activity occurring in that area,” he added.

Schwertfeger says a man was picked up Tuesday night wearing a hoodie and ski mask after a business reported him lurking around the parking lot.

The chief says the man was not charged in any crime, but he says it wasn’t normal behavior and they did investigate.

Schwertfeger says the computer program is used for a number of things, including the Crime Watch group, alerting police officers and can be used to reach the public if ever needed in an emergency.

“On a positive side -- and I always like to look at the positives -- the system worked,” Schwertfeger said. “It was an inadvertent message and we apologize if it caused any undue concern, but the good news is that the system worked.”

He says not everyone received the message because it was cancelled once they realized a mistake was made.

Wheeling police sent alert message in error

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