A network of outdoor warning sirens going off in parts of Dallas County early Tuesday morning was the result of a hacking, officials with the cities of DeSoto and Lancaster confirmed Tuesday night.
A statement from the City of DeSoto reads:
After consulting with the technical experts who help us to operate the outdoor emergency sirens in our area, and based on the widespread impact to these sirens, it appears that DeSoto’s outdoor warning siren system was hacked at approximately 2:30am Tuesday morning. This action appears to have been intentional and the city’s outdoor warning siren system is not operational at this time. Therefore we have turned this matter over to the police departments from the impacted cities for investigation.
The main purpose of these sirens is to alert people who are outside during inclement weather to seek shelter inside. Once a person is safe inside, the most important thing that they can do is to secure the most current and accurate weather information possible. The first step should be for all DeSoto residents to sign up for the Code Red emergency weather warning system which was not impacted. This can be found at www.desototexas.gov/codered . We then advise our residents to visit the National Weather Service Ft. Worth website at www.weather.gov/fwd or go to the emergency weather radio station NOAA Weather Radio for Texas online www.weather.gov/fwd/radio . Finally, tune in weather coverage specific to the Dallas Area on any of our local news broadcasts. We strongly advise DeSoto residents to monitor these weather information sources given the potential severe weather overnight tonight and tomorrow.
We will continue to make every effort to safely restore our outdoor siren system and to work with our law enforcement agencies in any follow-up investigations that are conducted.
The City of Lancaster also issued a statement.
Based on the widespread impact to the outdoor sirens located in two separate cities, including Lancaster, it has become evident that a person or persons with hostile intent deliberately targeted our combined outdoor warning siren network. The incident occurred at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
Sabotage against a public warning system is more than vandalism. It is a criminal act and those responsible are subject to arrest and prosecution. Accordingly, we have consulted with technical experts who help to operate the outdoor emergency sirens in our area and turned information over to our police for investigation.
The main purpose of outdoor sirens is to alert people who are outside during inclement weather to seek shelter inside. The most important thing that a person can do once they are safely inside is to secure the most current and accurate weather information. The first step should be for all Lancaster residents to sign up for Code Red emergency weather warnings at http://lancaster-tx.com/. We then advise our residents to visit the National Weather Service Ft. Worth website at www.weather.gov/fwd/ or listen to the emergency weather radio station NOAA Weather Radio for Texas online. Finally, tune in to weather coverage specific to the Dallas Area on any of our local news broadcasts. We strongly advise Lancaster residents to monitor these weather information sources given the potential for severe weather today and tomorrow.
We will continue to make every effort to safely restore our outdoor siren system and to work with our law enforcement agencies in further investigations. Given this new investigation, we will not be able to comment any further at this point.
We will utilize the CodeRed System, City Website, and all Social Media outlets to remain in communication.
Many people woke up early Tuesday morning when emergency sirens started going off in parts of Dallas County around 2:30 a.m., but there was no emergency.
Police in Lancaster and Desoto were swamped with calls. Earlier this morning, DeSoto police told WFAA that it was a "system malfunction" that caused it.
Tri-City Dispatch, which controls the sirens, investigated the cause of the glitch.
The City of DeSoto and City of Lancaster posted on their respective Twitter and Facebook pages, alerting the community that it was not an emergency.
In a statement, City of DeSoto said it also sent out a message to subscribers to the CODE RED emergency weather notification service that sirens "were malfunctioning and that there was not an actual emergency."
DeSoto, according to its city website, has 10 outdoor warning sirens. Lancaster has 20.
City officials now face looming questions muck as Dallas officials did in April of 2017.
Back then, someone hacked the city's 150 plus siren network and turned a majority of them on.
The city told media outlets that its outdoor warning siren system could be turned on by using a radio signal that wasn't encrypted.
Things have since changed, but WFAA asked both Lancaster and DeSoto officials if something similar happened this morning.
Both cities didn't officially provide a comment.
Spokespersons were unavailble to tell WFAA when the siren network would be back up and running officially.
This is a developing story. Check back for new information. Download our free WFAA app to stay up-to-date on all news stories in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.