“It went viral.”
Staff Sgt. Dave Beach of the Vanderhoof RCMP was helping to clear up concerns for parents in the area recently.
Thanks to social media, area sensitization and small-town gossip, a report by a nine-year-old girl in Vanderhoof describing a blue van following her went viral in area communities, but turned out to be nothing more than hyper-sensitivity.
On April 17, the young girl was walking along the street and felt like a blue van was following along behind her, which she then told her mother.
The incident was reported to the police, who subsequently investigated the incident.
The young girl gave a description which raised alarms amongst many, the incident was linked to a previous report in Fort St. James over a month ago when a young man driving a blue sedan with dice in the mirror and flowered seat covers stopped to talk to a young person on the street.
The school board then reportedly sent out a letter and a description after the incident which circulated to area schools before the RCMP had finished their investigation.
“At the end of the day it did not amount to anything,” said Beach. “It was taken out of context.”
But because the description had circulated so widely, children and parents were on the lookout for anything matching this description.
So when a nine-year-old described a blue-coloured van with dice hanging from the mirror and flowered seat covers seemingly following her, her parents were understandably concerned.
“We’re talking about two totally different vehicles,” said Beach, who also said there was no attempted abduction and there is no reason to believe the vehicle was even necessarily following the girl and not reading addresses or some other innocent driving-related activity.
“It’s not what it was reported as,” said Beach.
Beach said it is good people are so aware in some ways, and it is understandable given the community history of incidents in the area such as Madison Scott and Loren Leslie.
“Even the kids are really sensitized,” said Beach.
He said the RCMP have the responsibility to get to the bottom of every report of this kind.
The communities in the area can at least knock this incident off the list as one they shouldn’t worry about.
“We don’t have a concern with this instance.”