Dutch police get 2,000 calls about suspect people and packages
The Dutch police have been phoned with some 2,000 tips about ‘suspicious people’ and abandoned bags and suitcases since the Brussels bombings on Tuesday.
That is hundreds more than normal and shows that people are alert, police spokesman Mario Betting said in a statement.
‘After the Paris bombings, many people thought they had seen escapee Salah Abdeslam. In the past few days the calls have been about abandoned bags and suspect situations,’ he said.
Sometimes the calls are extremely vague such as ‘an Arabic-looking man doing something in a bag’, Betting said. ‘At times like these, there is a risk that people will see a bear behind every tree, particularly if they are confronted with someone who looks different or speaks another language.’
On Wednesday, for example, visitors to a McDonalds snack bar in Zandaam had alerted police after a man and woman were spotted in the toilets doing ‘something with wires’. Police turned out in force, with dogs and a helicopter but the call turned out to be a false alarm.
Nevertheless, they were arrested and a warning shot was fired. The couple were later released without charge.
‘Luckily we get very few hoax calls and those that do come in are usually filtered out by our telephonists,’ Betting said. ‘There are better uses for the energy we spend on fake incidents.’