Staged Child Abduction Triggers Investigation, Outrage

By Brett Snider, Esq. on April 18, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A fake child abduction has parents upset and police investigating possible charges against the participants, including the "abducted" boy's parents.

Onlookers in a park in Sequim, Washington, watched a masked man grab a toddler and make off with him in a minivan. Frightened parents called 911, and one woman even attempted to chase the van in an attempt to record its license plate number, reports The Associated Press.

What could possibly happen to these fake child abductors?

Planned Abduction to Raise Awareness

As 911 recordings obtained by CBS News suggest, bystanders who viewed the staged child abduction were furious to learn that the "kidnapped" toddler's parents were in on the whole thing:

All the participants eventually returned and explained that the fake kidnapping was "recorded to create a video for social media on child abduction and prevention awareness." Seattle's KIRO-TV reports that the men involved also run a YouTube channel which hosts videos of them performing pranks. Some of their video offerings include "Farting on the Public Part 2" and "Craigslist Test Drive Prank."

Those duped by this "educational" prank were apoplectic and police aren't too happy either. Speaking to CBS News' Crimesider, Sequim Police Chief Bill Dickinson confirmed the fake kidnappers did inform police of the hoax minutes before it began, but the prank was "in no way approved."

Phony Kidnappings Mean Real Trouble

Others have attempted these kidnapping pranks before, but the result opens the pranksters to potential criminal liability. The participants in the Sequim "kidnapping" face possible charges for dangerous conduct and failing to obtain a temporary permit for the fake kidnapping.

Both of these charges in Washington are misdemeanors, and carry possible jail sentences of up to a year. Sequim City Attorney Craig Ritchie told the Peninsula Daily News that obtaining a permit for the park would have allowed police to control traffic in the area, as well as inform park-goers that the "abduction" was fake.

Chief Dickinson told the Daily News that at least two people were under investigation for the incident, but it remains uncertain if charges will be filed.

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