Chief Lucas Clements reports that there have been many social media posts within the last week about suspicious persons, attempted abductions, or sex trafficking in and around the Richland Center area. These concerns have been further fueled by the circulation of “shared” social media posts.
Chief Clements and Sheriff Jim Bindl report that the Richland Center Police Department and Richland County Sheriff’s Department have received a few “suspicious activity” calls over the past week. These complaints have consisted of females with children possibly being followed. We have thoroughly investigated the complaints and we take them very seriously. We have not, however, identified any criminality in the complaints we have received. The Richland Center Police Department and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department have had no reports of abductions, or even attempted abductions, in these complaints; nor have there been any indications that the complaints are associated with sex trafficking.
Chief Clements also states, “I have been in contact with law enforcement officials in the neighboring communities of Muscoda and Boscobel, which have been mentioned in social media posts for allegedly experiencing similar “suspicious activity” complaints. Both Chief Bill Schramm of the Muscoda Police Department and Chief Todd Stenner of the Boscobel Police Department have not had any official reports of the type of activity mentioned in social media.”
While social media is a powerful tool to share information, the “viral” sharing of unverified information concerning a few alleged incidents can lead people to believe there have been significantly more incidents than actually occurred and unfairly label individual(s) as suspects. Ultimately, this sharing of unverified information has contributed to people feeling overly fearful.
All law enforcement agencies, to include locally the Richland Center Police Department and Richland County Sherriff’s Department have ALWAYS encouraged the public to be aware of their surroundings for their personal safety and to report suspicious activity to Law Enforcement. If you feel that you are being followed by someone please use the following tips:
- Call 911 immediately to report, law enforcement does not continually monitor social media.
- If walking, stay in a public area. If driving, drive to a police department or continue to drive until Law Enforcement is able to locate you.
- Memorize, write down, or take a picture of the license plate number, vehicle, and/or suspect description or any other identifying information. This will assist Law Enforcement in their subsequent investigation.
- Do not confront the individual(s).