From neighborhood break-ins, to a creepy, drawn out moan followed by a “help me” whisper, emergency radio scanner listeners share the most horrifying thing they’ve heard over the airwaves.
[Source can be found at the end of the article]
While we were working in a canyon that had very poor radio reception, we heard a very long, creepy, and drawn out moan come over the air. This was followed by a very weak (in both reception and tone) “…help…me…” in a woman’s voice. All of us freaked out.
These weak cries for help kept repeating low guttural “…help me…”on until dispatch finally stepped in a said “This is a federal emergency network. Unless you have an emergency, get off this channel.” This was followed by another plea for help, then a gun shot and screaming.
Turns out 2 local guys were out four wheeling, going straight up steep embankments, when the ATV flipped backwards, pinning the man under the ATV. Both of them being high on some substance, they started freaking out. The man, being perfectly fine, except for being pinned by the leg and high, started to hallucinate that he was bleeding out, pulled out his handgun and shot himself to make it quicker.
Because they were four wheeling so far back in the sticks, a helicopter was needed to retrieve the body.
Firefighter here. Was sitting in our pumper while doing some work in the cab when someone started reading numbers over the radio. His voice didn’t sound like anyone we knew in dispatch and wasn’t one of our other two stations either.
Dispatch heard it as well, had no idea what it was; but we have the numbers written down just in case. It was creepy because he read them slowly and clearly. Who knows.
I was fascinated with scanners when I was in my early teens… One night, back when you could pick up any cell phone call within miles (as they were analog and unencrypted in the 900mhz band), I was scanning through the 900mhz band and my scanner stopped on an in-use frequency… All I heard was “and then I’ll bring the Rottweiler in and let him mess you up, how’d you like that?”
It was kind of shocking to my 13 year old self… I think I switched frequencies when I heard that… Now I wonder what else was said.
Grew up in a remote area where police were hours away so we all listened to scanners and would rush to help as a community until police got there. A neighbor called in a motorcycle accident up the street from our house at a bad curve where there had been lots of accidents over the years. My dad would often take us along to help. We rushed out knowing an ambulance is usually at least 45 minutes away. We pulled up to the motorcycle and a guy laying in the ditch. I knew something was different because dad told me to stay in the car. It was his best friend. He was dead. It was one of the few times in my life I saw dad cry.
I work for a newspaper, and we have a scanner in the newsroom. I used to work the overnight shift, alone, so I was responsible for keeping an ear out for stuff going on. Luckily, it’s a pretty small town, so it’s pretty quiet at night.
One night, I heard a cop responding to a suspicious group of people in a park. Then, dead air, which wasn’t entirely unusual. I heard the call in, moments later, from the officer coming in to back him up when she found him shot, near death. I listened as the other officers searched desperately for the man who shot him. It was so scary hearing how desperate, helpless, and furious those officers sounded. That was several years ago now and I will never forget it.
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When we had the Waldo Canyon fires here in Colorado. A buddy of mine sent me a link to a scanner broadcast keyed in on the firefighters. They entered a house that was about to go up in flames and found a woman dead in a bathtub, and then left because the house was about to go up.
It was really straightforward, like “yep, lady’s dead lets go.” What a hellish situation to be that calm in.
A friend of mine likes to street race so he keeps police scanners in all his cars so he can keep tabs on cop locations. One day we had both ended up with a few days off and were just hanging out enjoying the fall day, in the late afternoon we picked up a six pack and parked his car down by the water and were sitting there enjoying the sunset and the beers, when we heard the radio make a few beeps. He reached in the window and turned it up. Suddenly we start hearing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” start playing, which went on for about a solid minute and a half. At the end the music just faded off and was replaced with a flatline tone like you hear from EKG machines. After the tone stopped we heard a cop come over the radio and ask “um…anyone have any idea what that was about?” There was a bit of confused chatter after that and then it went back to silence. It might just be us but we find that song really creepy and the entire little ordeal just seemed really odd.
I am a radio officer in the Coast Guard. Kind of half 911 operator, half air traffic controller. I’ve heard lots of chilling calls. People drop dead on deck and try to get resuscitated. People whose vessels are going down and they KNOW they won’t be around long and give you messages to families etc. One of the worst, a fella was on a fishing boat with his pal. It was really early in the morning, and he was cruising along. Well the guy must have been turned to the back of the boat while his buddy was in the back messing around with some gear. He didn’t notice a sand bar, and hit it hard. His friend was thrown from the back into the wheelhouse and bashed his head. The guy called in while doing CPR, and his friend was clearly dead from the description, but he just kept going. Stuff like that can keep you up at night.
My dad was a volunteer fire fighter so we always had the scanner on. One night when I was about 10 the tornado sirens went off. We ran to the basement and once we were settled we turned on the scanner. That night I listened to police and firefighters, many of whom’s voice I recognized, give a play by play of our town getting destroyed as if it was a football game. I listened to business names and street names trying to remember where my friends lived. My dad left to help. Then we heard my street.
The next morning the house 2 doors down was gone. I didn’t sleep well for a long time after that. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.
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I always wanted to go into law enforcement as my grandfather was a chief of police. So I had a pro model scanner that I listened to as often as most listen to their favorite fm radio station. When I was 18, I worked the graveyard shift. Well after I was done with work, I came home turned on my scanner and went to sleep as I usually did. I woke around 11:00 am and was listening to the dispatchers. All of a sudden they mention my home address. I was shocked and got out of bed excitedly to go tell everyone in my family that I just heard our address on the scanner. When I turned the corner in the hallway to go into the family room. The people from our fire department were coming in the door and my Dad way laying on the sofa in full cardiac arrest. I will never forget that moment as long as I live.
My Dad did survive but was never the same. He had seven full arrests that day and was in a coma for a month. He was 48 and died at 57. He was taking an average of 160 pills (Yes 160 pills) per day to survive. I think he just got tired of taking all of the medication.
Mid 90s, San Fernando Valley, CA. Listening to a cheap Radio Shack scanner late one night when I hear this exchange between an LAPD unit and dispatch:
Officer: “Just observed a motorcycle traveling eastbound on Devonshire passing Tampa, at a very high rate of speed.”
Dispatch: “…Do you have a vehicle description?”
Officer: “It had a red light on the back of it…”
That was the end of it.
I lived in a boring, semi-rural town growing up. My dad worked nights. On Friday nights, my stepmom would order pizza (before the pizza place stopped delivering to our address — funny story) and we’d listen to the police scanner. There was barely anything else to do in this town, so the scanner was great entertainment.
So one Friday, we’re chowing down on some pizza and listening to the scanner and they keep reporting something like “bear on the loose” in our neighborhood. The dispatcher said something about it being a possible prank call, and the calls kept coming.
After a while of this, the dogs start barking, and we hear a rustling and scratching sound on the back porch of our trailer. I turn on the porch light and look out the window. It was a black bear. My stepmom calls the police. The dispatcher gave her attitude, thinking it was a prank call. I let the dogs in the front door and we got the shotgun and waited.
Eventually the bear wandered off. It was funny because no one had ever seen a bear in our area. Most exciting thing that ever happened in our little town.
I’m a student at a maritime college and my radio communications teacher collects footage and radio archives of maritime disasters. He let us listen to a mayday message where the officer of the watch was sending out a piracy may-bay The message was pretty standard where the officer was aksing for assistance because they were under attack by pirates but you could hear the panic in his voice. The message was ongoing and then suddenly the voice changes to a calm dark voice with an accent “It’s too late now” and that was the end of the message.
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I was ten years old and it was 1992. I was always a very observant kid, and usually knew more about what I knew was happening than I let on. My father was a CB radio enthusiast. He and his buddies would sit at home and shoot the breeze on their radios. I knew my dad was sick, that he had been in the hospital for tests. I knew in my gut it was bad but that was all.
Our radio was sitting in our living room and it was always on. One day I learned my father was dying of aggressive cancer and he wouldn’t be alive much longer. His radio buddies decided to gossip over the airwaves with no thought about who might be listing. My parents were waiting until they knew exactly what was happening before they told me. I didn’t say a word. More than anything I just wanted to pretend I heard it wrong.
My stepdad kept one constantly running in our garage. One night I heard my cousins address go over the scanner about a noise complaint, and called him immediately. I knew he was having a party, so I figured that it was just getting loud. Some random person answers my call. (House phone back in 2000).
“Get an ambulance here!” and drops the receiver. I’m listening to shouts and scuffling over the phone and more codes coming over the scanner. A 10-1 is called in. I hear a gunshot on the phone and scanner simultaneously, then …
“Drop the weapon! Drop it!”
Two more gunshots.
A group of guys who didn’t like my cousins had rolled up 12 deep to the party and just started swinging on people in the yard. The first call to the cops was from a neighbor hearing the fight starting. Two more before the first shot I heard and three after. Eleven cops arrived and tried to stop the brawl. Two were injured, one seriously from some guy who threw a chunk of concrete. The first shot I’d heard was from a girl who pulled her handgun, shot at one of the thugs, and accidentally hit another girl in the stomach.
Everyone survived but damn was that hard to hear.
I work assignment desk during second shift.
That’s usually 2pm – 11pm here in a decent sized city.
There was one night that one officer was out checking on something and pulled over a car, he did the standard address and tag number like they all do. He walked up to the car and then the guy he pulled over got out and ran on foot. Last thing I heard from that officer was “suspect bailed, on foot” and then silence.
There was 20 minutes in which that officer never updated his position at all. Dispatch asked for his location and an update 5 times and they cleared the airwaves, waiting for a reply. Got nothing. So they preceded to start to look for that officer. They sent out a look out call to all the other division in the city for him (we have 4 , Will Rodgers, Hefner, spring lake, and Santa Fe) trying to find this officer.
I have never heard so many officers take off to find this guy. Finally after about 30 minutes, they find him. He chased the guy like 4 blocks and was having to hold him down and never could reach his radio in the process because the guy was aggressive.
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The most chilling thing I have ever heard was by sheer accident my scanner stopped on a LEO frequency that happened to be the end of a last call for a fallen officer. I was young and it was my brothers scanner.
It was the last section, calling attention to all units, but that held the frequency open. So we heard a slight crackle, silence, attention all units, and stated the officer was cleared from his final watch, then further silence. My brother turned it off, I asked him what that was, and it was clear it was something bad as he didn’t want to tell me.
Years later right here on a Leo subreddit someone posted a last call with the exact same format of a more recent officer that passed. Tears immediately came to my face as I realized the importance and meaning behind such a transmission. I don’t like listening to scanners anymore.
Once during a normal day, a transmission cut into our radios that remains a mystery. It was a partial transmission in a female voice that said something like “get them here.” Didn’t sound like our dispatcher or any female officers on duty. All our ears perked up as we waited for more. Our sergeant keyed up and asked to 10-9, dispatch had no idea what we were talking about. They played back the transmission and couldn’t find any voice, but we all heard it… so strange!
I’m a cop, so listening to a police radio is something I obviously do all day, every day.
Car crashes, house break-ins, assaults… Those are all routine.
The calls that send chills up my spine are actually the silent ones. When you hear a radio squelch, and maybe one or two words from another officer. “Fight” or “Gun!” and then silence. Then there’s just dead air, and everyone stops what they’re doing while dispatch tries to figure out who it was, and where they are.
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When I was about 14, I discovered the scanner that my mom had could pick up cordless phone calls. I’d spend hours eavesdropping on neighbors, even after my mom told me multiple times to stop.
I got addicted to it, even though most of it was boring. I did hear a single mom down the street get talked into leave her young child home alone to go hook up with a guy across town.
But the one that freaked me out was the neighbor across the street. Him and his girlfriend argued on the phone for a couple of hours one night. Toward the end of it, she broke up with him. He was crushed and was in tears. After much unsuccessful begging by him, she finally hung up.
A couple of minutes later, he calls her back and says, “I just want you to hear this.” I then hear, both through the scanner and through my bedroom window, a shotgun go off. I was scared.
I wasn’t sure what to do. Part of me wanted to go tell my mom what I had just heard but I also knew that I’d get in trouble. After what seemed like a lifetime, but was only about 20 minutes, a cop car showed up at the guy’s house. They were in there for about a half hour before leaving. No ambulance or anything. I was so confused.
A short while later, the girl calls the guy and starts to yell at him for being such an idiot. From what I could gather, he had just pointed the shotgun out his back door and pulled the trigger.
That was the end of my eavesdropping.
It’s quite a long time since you’ve been able to monitor police radio in NZ, so this was quite a while ago, probably 2001 or so…
The dispatcher called a 10-1 (attention all units) for any unit that could respond urgently to a 1F (assist fire/ambulance) to provide urgent assistance for a panicking caller who’s infant was choking. Ambulance were more than 10 minutes away.
A unit (area sergeant from memory) was only a minute or two away and responded immediately.
There were then a series of radio transmission from the officer on scene update dispatch as he performed CPR on the, by then, unconscious infant… Each transmission was accompanied by the sound of his hysterical screaming a crying mother in the background.
After about 2-3 minutes and 4 or 5 transmissions the next one had the sound of a crying infant and the officer reported that the child had started breathing and was responsive.
Ambulance arrived a few minutes later and the child was transported to hospital as status 3, which means moderate condition but not likely any threat to life.
Was a pretty intense thing to hear.
Conversely the most amusing I recall was after a while where a number of officers had been doing area patrols around the area in search of someone reported to have been exposing themselves to vehicles one of the units on site radioed the Delta (dog) unit to see if he was at the scene yet, his reply, almost immediately, was “yeah, I’m just putting my raincoat away” – the description of the suspect, transmitted only a minute or so earlier was a middle aged man wearing a long raincoat.