A pirate broadcaster posing as a police officer interfered in a police chase this week in Australia, forcing officers to call off the pursuit of two suspected armed robbers.
The incident took place on Tuesday when officers from Victoria Police were called to intervene in alleged armed robbery that took place in the town of Sale.
Pirate broadcaster hijacks police radio frequency
Once on the scene, two offenders fled in a car, which officers followed. During the chase, an unknown voice was heard multiple times over the local police emergency frequency.
The voice disrupted regular communications and posed as a police officer. Police chasing the suspects were forced to abandon the chase, but they eventually caught the two suspects — a man and a woman — later, on in a nearby town.
In a statement, a Victoria Police spokesperson said they believe the pirate to be operating out of the East Gippsland area.
Local detectives are now investigating pirate transmissions. Police also published two phone numbers where locals can call and help in identifying the radio hacker’s voice. Because the pirate broadcaster posed as a police officer, investigators believe this was an intentional hack.
Authorities looking to replace old emergency radio network
Police Minister Lisa Neville described the incident as “appalling.”
The incident happened just as government officials have contacted local ISP Telstra to install new emergency networks to run a modern and easier to secure digital radio system.
Speaking to Brisbane Times, the Police Minister said plans were set in motion before the hack, and this week’s incident had no bearing on the government’s decision.
In July, another hacker had carried out similar pirate radio broadcasts. Using a powerful antenna, the yet to be identified hacker took over a UK station’s radio frequency and played an obscene song on eight different occasions.
The Victoria Police radio frequency is not the first and only emergency IT system that’s been hacked this year. Back in April, a hacker set off all tornado sirens in the city of Dallas, twelve times in the same night.
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