MOORPARK (CBSLA.com) – Moorpark police are letting parents know that a rash of rumors circulating social media claiming that kidnappers are on the prowl for kids at a local Target store are completely false.
The fabricated stories circulating community group sites have become so problematic, and created so much panic, that Moorpark Police Chief John Reilly is planning to hold a town hall meeting Monday afternoon to address the issue.
“By the time it changes hands, it’s retold so many times that it actually morphs from what the story was,” Reilly told CBS2 Friday.
Reilly said there was recent social post about a woman who was at Target and felt uncomfortable because someone was watching her. After several comments and shares, the story drastically changed, and none of it was true.
“And the end call that I ended up getting in my office was, ‘I heard a lady was shopping at Target when someone tried to steal her kids and sell them into the sex slave trade,’” Reilly said.
Like a modern game of telephone, posts take on new identities. There was another recent post about a confrontation at a gas station between a woman and a transient who reportedly touched the woman’s arm. It morphed into a story of how the transient tried to abduct her and her children.
Moorpark police officers have seen an increase in calls from people trying to separate fact from fiction. The department is encouraging people to maintain a healthy skepticism when sifting through social media.