Authorities with different police agencies say three recent reports of strangers approaching women and children are all false.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Parker Police Department said their investigators have determined that the reports made between July 16 and July 23 are not credible. Now two of those who made the claims face criminal charges, including false reporting to authorities, a Class 3 misdemeanor.
The sheriff’s office issued an alert July 19 out of “concern for public safety” after two women reported incidents in Highlands Ranch. One woman said a Hispanic male approached her July 16 near her home in the Northridge Park area of Highlands Ranch and asked her to go with him. When she refused, she said, he got in a white van and quickly drove away.
Three days later, another woman said a “dark-skinned man” put his arm around her waist in a parking lot at the Taco Bell at Blakeland Drive at Highway 85, just outside Highlands Ranch. She said she pushed him away and he left in a white van.
The Parker police responded July 23 to a call of a man in a white van approaching two young children in Jola Park in Clarke Farms and offering them candy. That report was also found to be untrue, with officials saying two hours after an alert was issued that the “information may not be as credible as initially presumed.”
Sgt. Andy Coleman, public information officer for the Parker police, said the department is not considering criminal charges because the false report came from an 8-year-old girl. He defended against criticism the department received on Facebook for disseminating what turned out to be false information, calling the situation a “Catch-22.”
“We want to get it out to everybody as soon as possible when we get a report like that,” Coleman said. “The downside is when someone is lying and providing a false report. But if we ever waited, I think people would be upset if we didn’t provide that information.”
The sheriff’s office had encouraged residents to immediately call in suspicious activity involving a Hispanic male in a white van to its Major Case Tip Line. The announcement that the two Highlands Ranch reports were false noted that they came in to investigators as “distinct separate incidents.”
The DCSO says “it is likely charges will be recommended” to the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.