A Richmond family whose 13-year-old daughter was attempted to be taken last week from the Old Richmond Mall parking lot is encouraging others to stay safe and cautious via a social media post.
In the post, the mother of the victim states that her daughter was almost kidnapped last Friday evening around 5 p.m. while with her family after a man in a pickup truck approached the girl allegedly attempting to put her inside.
According to Rodney Richardson, assistant police chief with the Richmond Police Department, the family did call the police to report the incident, and it is under investigation.
“(The family) just called to notify what had taken place, and we couldn’t find a vehicle that matched the description, but because of their seriousness of the potential of the crime, it was given to investigators to follow up on,” he said.
While some who shared the post online attributed the occurrence to a potential sex trafficking ring taking place in the city and county, Richardson said there is no current evidence to suggest linkage to a sex-trafficking ring.
“As far as we know, there was nothing said, nothing exchanged,” Richardson said. “We don’t know what the male’s intent was. But just because we don’t know about it doesn’t mean that it is not happening. We don’t have any evidence to suggest a ring or group going around and abducting children for sex trafficking.”
In the mother’s social media post, she said the event was very quick and unexpected. She stressed that it doesn't have to be dark or late for something like this to happen to anyone, anywhere at anytime.
“I just want people to know it doesn’t have to be dark out. It doesn’t have to be secluded and the people committing these crimes are average-looking people,” she said. “This man was not in a creepy van, and (her daughter) was just steps from her family and in broad daylight.”
While other posts mentioned other similar instances like this one occurring in other parking lots, Richardson said he was unaware of reports taking place in those specific lots.
“We have no information that that is accurate, at least to my knowledge, and if there has been, they have not reported it,” he said.
Richardson encourages residents to be aware of their surroundings at all times and to talk with their family and loved ones about their personal security preferences and security measures to take.
“Don’t walk alone, stay in well-lit areas and always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back,” he added. “The best thing is to trust your instincts and call 911. If it doesn’t seem right, then it is not right. Get away and call 911 immediately, and we can get officers out as soon as possible.”
In a statement from the Kentucky Attorney General's Office, AG Daniel Cameron, who has said addressing human trafficking is a priority for his office, there are common signs of human trafficking that every Kentuckian should be aware of.
"Human trafficking victims will often show signs of physical or mental abuse and they may appear to be fearful or submissive," he told The Register. "Victims may also not have control over their own money or possessions and may not know what city or state they are living in."
If you or someone you know is involved in a potential trafficking situation, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 or reach out to your local law enforcement agency.
The incident is being handled by the Richmond Police Department. Those with any information pertaining to this investigation can call RPD at 859-623-8811.
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