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Bronx Kidnapping of 16-Year-Old Girl was (Thank Goodness) a Hoax

Did you hear about the Bronx kidnapping of a 16-year-old girl? It turns out it was a hoax. The girl says she faked it because of her overprotective mother.

A 16-year-old girl abducted by four men in a car as she walked down a Bronx street with her mom on Monday night has admitted this was a hoax.

So first of all: Thank God. She’s safe. Not raped or murdered or trafficked.

Second of all: Hmm. While only a cynic would have said, “I’ll bet this is a hoax” when the Amber Alert went out, it starts to look pretty fishy in hindsight. How so? It is extremely rare for a child to be kidnapped by strangers, and even more rare when the child is with another person. (Read more about how crime statistics are actually lower right here.)

Kidnappings happen a lot more on Law & Order SVU than it does in real life. According to the Crimes Against Children Resource Center, 105 people under the age of 18 endured what’s called a “strereotypical kidnapping” in 2012, the most recent year for which we have the data. (And 92% of them made it back alive.)

It feels as if the girl, Karol Sanchez, may have suffered from the same misperception as Ronald Clark O’Bryan, the man who poisoned his son’s Pixi Styx on Halloween, back in 1974. He was easily found out because he’d taken out several insurance policies on the boy. But my guess is what really did him in was his completely incorrect assumption that poisoning on Halloween is so common that, hey, what’s one more strychnined kid? I’ll bet that Sanchez thought stranger abductions are a lot more common than they really are, too.

Even though it was a hoax, it caused a lot of concern.

What’s horrible is that though the act was fake, the reaction was real. Her mother was heard by a witness sobbing and screaming for 10 minutes. I cannot imagine what that mom and Sanchez’ other relatives endured. Across the city, and country, even strangers were worried sick.
The footage of the “kidnapping” showed four guys in black grabbing her. It is so hard to see exactly what’s going on in the grainy video. It makes you wonder why we we have security cameras at all. You certainly can’t see any faces or license plates.  But still—it was terrifying.

And for what? The girl’s family is from Honduras and the The New York Times reported that they were thinking of moving back—something Sanchez did not want to do. The Times also said that the girl mentioned something to the cops about her mom being “overprotective.”

If this was a ploy to make mom less overprotective, we’ll have to chalk it up as a fail.

Amber Alert today