False abduction report could lead to charges

Posted at 12:00 AM, Dec 03, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Reports of an attempted kidnapping at VCU come on the heels of several robberies near the campus, frightening students and those who live nearby even more, like Billy Heron who says, “It’s enough to raise the hair on the back of your neck.”

According to police, a woman claims she was walking in an alley along the 300 block of Hancock Street when a man stopped to ask her if everything was okay, all before grabbing her arm and trying to pull her into a dark colored SUV.

Police say after reviewing surveillance video in the area, they've come to the conclusion the woman's story was fabricated.

While the motive is unclear in this case, University of Richmond Criminology Professor, Joan Neff tells us, most falsely reported cases are from people who simply want to feel like someone cares.

“One way to get lots of attention is to call the police and file a report that someone tried to abduct you,” Neff tells CBS 6’s Lorenzo Hall.

However, Neff says, they don't realize all the resources that go into investigating such claims. We recently saw Henrico police actively looking for an alleged kidnapper after a 12-year old boy claims a man tried to snatch him up.

These investigations are costly.

For instance, the search for a University of Wisconsin student, who admitted to faking her kidnapping to get attention, cost more than $70,000.

“That surprises them. They don't realize that. They think oh, I made a mistake. I'm sorry," Neff says. "Yet, they find out they can get in real trouble largely because of the intensive manpower."

Even with this reported false alarm, VCU students say they'll still be on the lookout.

“I’m always on alert because it's a high crime area, but I feel very safe with VCU Police,” says one student. 

Neff says the woman who made the false claim can be charged with obstructing police, which is a misdemeanor.