Fake guns that trigger very real scares - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Fake guns that trigger very real scares

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Law enforcement officials are getting an increasing number of calls about fake guns being mistaken for the real deal. Sheriff's officials say they always air on the side of caution and take every call seriously.

We searched for fake guns on Google, and found dozens of results, including a dog leash, a BB gun, a hair dryer shaped like a gun and a t-shirt with an imprinted holster carrying a weapon. From far away, these all look real and lead to genuine scares.

Law enforcement says they deal with this issue all the time.

"I think the response was appropriate," San Diego County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said.

On Wednesday of last week, San Diego sheriff's deputies responded to Cal State San Marcos in full force and the campus was put on lockdown. The reason was a possible active shooter, but it turns out there was never a gun, but simply a black umbrella being carried by a staff member.

"That person that called it in should be applauded, and we are grateful that they called it in because if that had been a real gun, he or she would be given accolades right now," Caldwell said.

Caldwell says law enforcement has to err on the side of caution, because often times it's impossible to tell what's real and what's fake.

"You have real guns that now the bad guys are trying to make look like toys. They're painting them pink and different colors," Caldwell said.

Seven years ago, Jacob Johnson was taken into custody after leaving a Wells Fargo bank in Mira Mesa. All this after a teller called police saying he was wearing a gun. It was actually a belt buckle. And recently in Maine, police armed with rifles descended upon a home after a tree removal crew reported the owner had a gun. That gun was a life-sized tattoo on his stomach.

Caldwell says despite the false alarms they often deal with, every incident is treated using extreme caution. It's an issue discussed in the academy, and one the public should never hesitate to question.

"If you see something, say something. We want that call… and we are thrilled when it is (false). It's a training exercise for us," Caldwell said.

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