Law enforcement officers in Washington State recently jumped into action when they received a call from citizens who believed they were witnessing an abduction in an Olympia park. About 10 hours later, a statement from the Washington State Patrol—Washington’s version of the state police—confirmed that the abduction was not real and, in fact, was part of an elaborate “escape room-style kidnapping” with no actual harm intended. Local prosecutors are now deciding whether to file charges.
A Scary Situation
According to the Washington State Patrol (WSP), the law enforcement agency received a call at about 10:30 pm on Wednesday, August 22. The report indicated that a possible abduction had taken place at Heritage Park in the state capital of Olympia. Witnesses indicated that several men in white plastic suits had grabbed three victims—all of them children—and restrained them with zip-ties. The children were reportedly placed in the back of a red pick-up truck.
Understandably, the WSP took the report very seriously and immediately began investigating. When they arrived on the scene, the entire group was gone, but the police continued to gather information. Soon after, a person connected to the “abduction” contacted the police to say that their family was involved but that it was not real.
The WSP used information provided by the tipster to track down the truck, as well as the alleged perpetrators and victims. Everyone was found safe and unharmed, “including multiple minors.” All were members of the same family participating in what they called a “scavenger hunt” and a staged abduction to entertain one another.
The WSP confirmed that there had been no real threat to victims. A spokesperson for the WSP said, “The abduction was the hoax, not the report. [The witnesses] believed it to be a real event.”
Disorderly Conduct in Illinois
Making a false report to the police—as well as to the fire department or other emergency services—may be considered disorderly conduct under Illinois law. In order to qualify for such charges, the person who makes such a report must know that it is based on false pretenses. In the Washington case described above, the witnesses believed that police assistance was needed, so charges are not being considered against anyone who made the report.
However, it is also considered disorderly conduct in Illinois for someone to cause a false report to be transmitted to any public safety agency. Staging a crime—regardless of the intention—could potentially fall under this category. The severity of the charge and the associated penalties may vary based on which public safety agency was notified and the circumstances of the case. For example, causing a false alarm to be transmitted to the police to report that a crime is being committed could be prosecuted as a Class 4 felony while causing a false bomb threat to be transmitted is prosecutable as a Class 3 felony.
Call Us for Help
If you or someone you love has been charged with disorderly conduct for making a false police report or any other similar offense, contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.