Dangerous prank leads to smashed windows at fast food restaurants

A bizarre wave of property crimes is leaving smashed windows at fast food restaurants across the country, but the windows aren't being broken from the outside. They're being broken from the inside, by people who've been convinced to do the damage.

You can hear the sounds of broken glass at this Burger King outside of Minneapolis.

Police say more than 22 windows were broken by employees in an effort to clear out the air and prevent the building from exploding.

Ethan Grewe was one of the workers who was frantically breaking windows.

"I was a little scared," he said. "My other co-workers were doing it so I just followed along."

employee.jpg
Ethan Grewe. CBS News

In a press release police say: "Employees stated that a person called the restaurant...stating they were a fire department official."

Capt. Tom Hawley said the caller spoke to the female manager.

"He seemed to indicate he was monitoring the business remotely," Hawley said. "He kept giving her updates, telling her if they didn't act quickly to relieve pressure inside the building by breaking out windows the business would explode."

In California, police say a manager of a Burger King reportedly rammed his car into the building for the same reason.

This year alone, similar incidents have been reported in Arizona, Oklahoma and at other fast food restaurants like Wendy's and Jack in the Box.

hawley.jpg
Capt. Tom Hawley. CBS News

Police have not made any arrests in these cases, but say if they do, they'll pursue felony charges.

"Anytime you terrorize someone and get them to do something they probably wouldn't normally do, not only damage property, but hurt them and easily someone else," said Hawley.

Police and fire officials say they would never call a residence or business and ask people to take that kind of action. CBS News reached out to the fast food restaurants involved and have not received a response.