Wichita Police Department sifting through fact versus fiction on social media

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) –  You might have seen posts floating around social media about an attempted kidnapping at Towne East Thursday night.

The Wichita Police Department wants the public to know, those posts turned out to be false.

Wichita Police Officer Paul Cruz says there was no abduction or attempted abduction last night at the mall.

A video going around on Facebook shows police arresting two people. Officers say the woman arrested is a panhandler who pretends to be deaf. She was arrested for trespassing since Towne East has told her to stay off of the property.

The woman’s husband was also arrested for driving a vehicle with a stolen tag.

The two have been spotted at other stores, but police are emphasizing that they are not suspected of attempted abductions.

Officer Cruz says it is time consuming to follow up on potentially serious crimes.

“It does bring about and take a lot of resources to be able to follow or follow up with these Facebook posts that a lot of times may or may not have been reported to us,” said Ofc. Cruz.

He also touched on the resources it takes to investigate these kinds of cases that come through social media posts.

“I can tell you, earlier this morning it took at least three other officers, including myself to rummage through a lot of the cases, what was reported, what was not reported,” said Ofc. Cruz.

But as with anything online, where anyone can say anything.

“That is the positives and negatives of social media, because at the same time when there is an incident where we want information out immediately, social media is a great tool for us to use as law enforcement,” said Ofc. Cruz.

Wichita residents Renee Potter says she checks social media daily.

She says if she sees a story or a post, she normally tries to find something that is going to back up what is being said.

“Anybody can say anything and so I just think you need to be kind of careful and just be smart about it,” said Potter.

Officer Cruz offered some tips to the public about how to navigate social media posts.

He says be skeptical of headlines, especially ones in all caps or with exclamation points.

Officer Cruz also says it is always wise to investigate the source of the story or post, to make sure it comes from a trustworthy source.

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