HERMON, Maine — An 11-year-old boy who reported an attempted kidnapping to police on Friday night “made it up,” Sgt. Michael Burgess of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department said Monday.
The boy used information from a previously reported attempted kidnapping in Hermon that occurred on May 26 when he called police.
“Apparently, he heard about the first incident and was able to make up a story,” Burgess said. “I don’t know if it was for attention or what.”
He added later that, “We’re still looking into the first one.”
The initial reported attempted kidnapping in town occurred on May 26 when a white male, described as in his 30s or 40s, with a muscular build and short, buzz-cut-style dark brown hair stopped in front of a Coldbrook Road home and reportedly attempted to coax a 9-year-old girl waiting for the school bus into his car.
The girl thwarted the attempted kidnapping by alerting her mom, who “came out running,” Burgess said after the incident.
Police are still on the lookout for a white older model car, possibly a Buick, with a red horizontal stripe between the taillights, the sergeant said.
Barbara Libby, Hermon Elementary School principal, said Monday that the school issued a warning to parents the day after the initial incident. Area parents also spread the warning using Facebook, Burgess said.
While investigating Friday’s reported crime involving the boy, Deputy Jeff King took the child to the area where the boy reported a man in a white car with a red racing stripe stopped, “rolled down the window and said, ‘Get in the car.’”
The juvenile told police the attempted kidnapping occurred on the corner of Route 2 and Billings Road, and once he was told a convenience store at the same location has an outdoor surveillance camera, he admitted he lied.
“We explained the seriousness of making a false report” and returned him to his parents, the sergeant said.
Police did review the store’s film footage and it did not corroborate the child’s story, he said.
The second reported kidnapping caused residents in the area to be on high alert.
“It has caused a lot more work,” Burgess said. “We’ve been getting a lot of calls on white vehicles.”
Even though the second report was fake, police still are warning parents to keep an eye on their children and to teach youngsters about what to do if they are approached by a stranger.
One local parent reacted to the stories of crime in her town by purchasing her 10-year-old son a cell phone just for emergencies.
“I have been really against kids having cell phones, but with this happening in my town and near my home it made it real to me,” Regina Leonard said Monday.
She purchased her son Dylan a $10 TracFone that carries 20 minutes a month.
“It will simply be for emergencies and when he’s not with me,” Leonard said.
The cell phone costs $20 every three months, which works out to about $80 a year, she said.
Leonard also has spoken to her son about what to do if he encounters strangers.
“I encouraged him to talk to all of his friends,” Leonard said. “Right now, I’m not letting him out of my sight.”
As a precaution, Burgess could be seen parked in his cruiser outside Hermon Elementary School on Monday after school.
After the first attempted kidnapping was reported, police did get a tip from a local business, also equipped with video surveillance cameras, that a customer matched the description of the man police are looking for.
“The manager there is downloading it and we’re just waiting for it,” Burgess said. “It’s still actively being investigated.”