Police Dispel Rumors of Human Trafficking in the Area
From Benton County to Faulkner County, rumors of door-to-door salesmen preying on children have circulated throughout the area and on social media.
But local authorities say don’t believe everything you read on Facebook.
“While we encourage our citizens to be vigilant and safety minded, just because it is posted on Facebook, does not make it true” said Siloam Springs Chief of Police Joe Garrett.
Garett’s department has received numerous calls about the post seen online claiming foreign men posing as door-to-door children’s books salesmen are attempting to kidnap kids.
Facebook posts, many of which have since been removed, tell the story of a woman named Becky whose 9-year-old saw the book salesmen knocking on her bedroom window late at night in Faulkner County. The post goes on to say two little boys have already been kidnapped from the area. However, there are currently no active Amber Alerts in Arkansas, according to the Arkansas State Police website.
The same story popped up in Franklin County this week, but sheriff Anthony Boen said his office has received no reports of missing children or suspicious activity in the area.
Authorities suggest citizens conduct an online search to determine the validity of a story before sharing or forwarding a story like this online.
A quick search of Snopes.com, a site dedicated to rumors and Urban Legends, a “booksellers warning” about sex traffickers with “Slavic or heavy accents” surfaced again in August of this year in Arizona and Minnesota. Similar claims popped up in June in Broken Arrow, Okla., which police later said were not true.
Much like other cities in the area, Siloam Springs requires door-to-door sales persons to have permits and they are required to leave your property when asked, according to Holland Hayden, Communication Director.
However, if you’ve been involved in a situation that makes you believe there is suspicious activity going on, authorities say don’t hesitate to call.