All too often bomb threats over the phone are assumed to be hoaxes. Although your threat should be a hoax (explosives are too expensive, and make a nasty mess), they should be performed with the skill and finesse of a bulldozer. Practice is a must if you are to convince any snot-nosed twerp answering the phone in the local “Cowardly Jack’s Chicken Grill and Spacies Emporium” that you are “for real”. Try standing in front of a mirror and, holding up two fingers like a gun, saying in a menacing voice “Are you talking to me? Well punk, are ya?” a couple of times.

Now you’re ready! Start by casing out a place to find one that has the least intelligent person likely to answer the phone. Places such as video arcades and fast food outlets are the likeliest (just a generalisation – no insult intended – nah, I lie, they’re all thick). Try to avoid organisations such as your local Secret Service Bureau, Explosives Response Unit, or Law Enforcement Authority of any kind. They’re usually a little more on-to-it than you really need – save them until you’re really good.

Find out the phone number through the telephone directory, or by asking them in a casual way e.g “My 18 year old sister has the hots for you because she really loves the look of a man in uniform, especially those fake pig snouts you get to wear, and might give you a call – what’s the number here?”.

Go immediately to the nearest public phone (preferably one right outside the joint) and place your call. Most places in the civilised world have caller ID now, but there should be a number you punch in first to stop your ID coming up at the other end. Put this number in first, or they’ll have you straight away.

Your first contact with the victim should include manic laughter, or a low pitched “Mwaaa aaa aaa” as your intention is to instil fear and panic from the start. Warning: If you muck this up, you’ll be met with laughter and not be taken seriously from then on. A hint is to tape record The Count from Sesame St, including the thunder, and play this back to them if you can’t manage anything better than a cackle. Always talk in a French accent, it is more likely that a terrorist attack will come from the French (see: That's Why I Hate the French).

Now, most large businesses have a “Bomb Threat Card” which they use to prompt them in what to ask in just such a situation. Prepare yourself with answers to each of these questions. Below is a list of suitable responses to give you some ideas:

  • “What does it look like?” – The more you convince them that it could be damn near anything, the better your ruse will work – “It is disguised to look like an everyday item and you’ve been walking past it for days now.”
  • “What time will the bomb go off?” – I suggest you aren’t too specific here. Try: “It will only go off if somebody touches it”
  • “What will set it off?” – remember they are now in panic mode, and just reading shit off the card by this stage – “I just told you that dick-weed! (in a slow and patronising voice) It will go off it anyone touches it or bumps it, or there are any sudden loud noises. It is especially susceptible to screams or loud voices such as shouting for everyone to leave the room – oh yeah, and it has a proximity detector that, should you leave the room, it will also go off.”
  • “Why are you doing this?” – “Because I can’t stand the voices any more.”
  • “Where are you calling from?” – “Your mother’s place – nice curtains by the way.”
  • “Who are you?” – “You remember that guy you used to pick on at school…”

Now play the tape of The Count again, or do your wee manic laughter routine, and hang up. When a suitable crowd gathers outside, sneak up behind the person you’re sure answered the phone and whisper “Boom” in his ear, then blend back into the crowd again. Stick around to answer the police’s questions. Try to describe yourself exactly to them and see if you get away with it.

Really want to clear out an area? Try making an anthrax threat. The following is the procedure in case of an anthrax threat (I believe it is pretty universal):

1. Building is evacuated. The place is basically sealed - no one, not even police enter.
2. The local FBI field office and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) are called and respective representatives arrive on the scene.
3. Everyone who may have even walked within 10 feet of the building are vaccinated (as many people as the police can find).
4. Tests in the building are taken for anthrax by the CDC.
5. The building is kept clear for another 3 days.

Obviously you gotta be extremely careful if you choose to do this instead of a conventional bomb threat since the FBI will be all over and will probably be pretty angry.

2005 update. Since this node was written (pre-911) larger cities have probably created much better policies for handling these kinds of threats. It likely won't work half as well as before and probably gets 2x the amount of pissed off homeland security people looking into it.

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