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Police say you shouldn't be quick to share social media posts about 'attempted abductions'

Philadelphia Police
Posted at 4:02 PM, Nov 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-11 18:22:07-05

HIGHLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — “We’ve kind of gotten so used to, instead of just reporting things in person or by phone, we think we can just type it up on social media and something will come out to it,” says Lt. Mike Shaw of Michigan State Police.

Local social media pages have become inundated lately with claims of attempted child abductions. The posts garner thousands of shares at times, but did the events posted about really happen?

How are you supposed to know what’s real and what’s not?

“They were approached with a puppy, candy, and popsicles, and they threw the popsicles on the road,” says Marilyn Mangum, whose 10-year-old son Ethan was approached by a stranger.

The Mangums were one of two terrified families I spoke with in Highland Township, the others were the Leeds.

“He didn’t sleep, I had to sleep with him, but he’s doing alright,” Mangum says.

Their two sons were approached by a man at an old high school who tried to lure them into his truck.

“And then they started yellin and screamin and the neighbor lady was like “do you kids know him?” and they were like ‘no' and he jumped in his truck and took off,” says Shaun Leeds.

Once home the families filed police reports about the incident. MSP Lieutenant Shaw says this process is imperative for people to know about because many don’t follow it anymore.

“They didn’t go on Facebook and type it all out, and make a video and all this stuff, they called the police, and the police went out there and were to do their job and find this suspect and get him off the street,” he says.

In the last couple months, there have been an influx of alleged child abduction claims like these in Southeast Michigan.

They’re scary, and at times garner thousands of shares, but the truth is what happened to the Mangum and Leeds families is incredibly rare both locally,

“I think it’s important to remember that an actual stranger abduction is very, very rare. I mean it usually just doesn’t happen. Usually it’s a custody dispute, a parental kidnapping, something like that,” says Shaw.

And, according to John Bischoff with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, nationally,

“Non-family abductions, we receive probably about 100 to 120 a year,” he says. “When you dig deeper into those, only about 10% of those are actual no relation, no knowledge of the family.”

Most child abductions are endangered runaways or family abductions.

Based on the Crime in Michigan Report, in 2021 there were 249 abduction “incidents” reported but Lt. Shaw says when officers went to check the reports out,

“A lot of these, when we start looking into them or we start to get phone calls, we find out that they never called anybody and they’re not even sure if it happened,” he says.

Shaw says most of the claims you’re seeing on your community social media page are just people who are scared or looking for attention, so don’t share them.

“Stop it! That’s the key,” he says.

And if you experience something off-putting personally report it immediately to police and the National Center for Missing Children.

The Mangum and Leeds did and today their suspect has been identified and their two boys are safe.

“What we want people to do is remain vigilant, know your surroundings, know what’s going on. talk to your kids and let them know, hey if you see something suspicious you should tell an adult but don’t put it on Facebook, tell your local law enforcement agency,” Shaw says.

“I’m glad these kiddos are okay,” Mangum says.