Police: Tell us first, not Facebook; Child predator sightings hit Facebook groups

Alleged sightings of predators trying to lure children to vehicles have popped up all over Facebook crime-watch type groups over the past week, and upset parents continue to spread the word of caution.

Therein lies the problem.

Only one of the purported sightings in the Mid-County area has been officially reported to local police, according to police.

One of the posts that have circulated referred to an incident in Nederland.

“A juvenile female was walking home from school and stated a white male in a white van with ‘pizza’ spray painted on the side stopped and asked if she wanted pizza,” Nederland Police Chief Darrell Bush said of the reported incident. “The female got out her phone and said she was calling the police and the man took off.”

The incident occurred near Central Middle School around 3:30 p.m. last week.

Bush said police did check the area but were not able to confirm the incident.

Bush asked that people call police as soon as possible if they see something suspicious such as the above-mentioned incident.

Around the same time as the reported Nederland incident, there as a similar sighting in Port Neches near the corner of Llano Street and Grigsby Avenue, according to a Facebook crime group posting. The issue was reported to officials at Woodcrest Elementary School, who then issued an alert to parents. The parent said, according to the post, that a man in a red truck pulled up in a driveway and asked a juvenile boy to help him find his dog. The child said ‘no’ and went inside and told his mother.

Port Neches Police Chief Paul Lemoine said a police report on the incident was not made.

“It (the incident) was picked up on a Facebook group and someone contacted us by phone and asked if we knew anything about it,” Lemoine said.

The mother, he said, didn’t report the incident the day it appeared on Facebook.

“If someone sees anything suspicious, they need to call the police. If it’s nothing, no harm, no foul,” he said. “If it is something, they may actually prevent a crime from happening by calling the police first and worry about spreading it on social media second.”

A Facebook post on yet another group site told of an older model white van with writing but no phone numbers. The male driver reportedly told a girl that he knew her mother and asked how she was doing, and he was acting suspicious. The child saw the man again in the area of Cambridge Apartments.

The post said the incident was reported to police.

Groves Police City Marshal Norman Reynolds Jr. said he had heard about a recent incident in Orange County but was not familiar with one in his city.

“Facebook is certainly useful to all of us, even the law enforcement community, but posts still have to be coupled with making contact with police agencies,” Reynolds said. “After that’s done, then share on Facebook. The first point of contact needs to be the police department, and let the authorities know what you suspect and give them an opportunity to make contact with the individuals.”

If possible, try to get a description of the individual as well as the suspect vehicle and the license plate number.

Reynolds said police do monitor various Facebook crime group sites but often hear of crimes after the fact.

E-mail: mary.meaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews

Columns

HEALTHY LIVING — What to be concerned with that lingering cough

Local

Port Neches homes set for demolition after numerous violations, safety concerns

Local

Russell Buss hits milestone with special blood donation

Local

Carjacking Task Force targeting violent crime in Southeast Texas

Local

Port Arthur students excel at Top Teens of America event

Local

PHOTO FEATURE — Memorial sophomore excels in prose interpretation

Local

RELIGION BRIEF — God 1st Missionary Baptist celebrating pastor’s anniversary

Local

PHOTO FEATURE — Criticism Team comes up extra positive

Local

PHOTO FEATURE — Taking in the Symphony

Local

Dr. Avila Arcala left mark on Port Arthur and beyond; service planned Saturday

Local

Port Arthur ISD support center renovation full go; district leaders outline plans and timeline

Local

U.S. Navy for Port Arthur’s Hyleta Floyd is about service and family

Local

FIT BODY BOOT CAMP PUMPS UP VOLUME — Fitness goals via a welcoming environment is the mission

Local

Jury sentences Port Arthur man week after he was found guilty in Beaumont killing

Local

Port Arthur Police say arrests coming following shooting of 16-year-old local girl

Local

National Weather Service outlines heavy rain concern for Southeast Texas

Local

Willie Mae Elmore, former Port Arthur ISD trustee, nurse educator, dies at 74

High School Sports

Port Neches-Groves’ Morgan Campbell setting school record pace en route to regionals

Local

Troop Industrial earns special Veteran-owned small business certification

Local

Port Arthur and Beaumont Rotary Clubs, 100 Black Men of Greater Beaumont gathering for Sleep in Heavenly Peace impact

Local

Authorities identify 21-year-old Nederland man killed in ATV crash

Groves

Stolen vehicle chase into Port Arthur and Groves leads to continued suspects search

Local

FAMILY TRADITION — Darlean’s Market and Café earns success, recognition

Local

Local man says he was poisoned when he threatened 2 people with hatchet