Two girls who told police they were abducted in Strawberry Mansion on Monday night — pulled into a van by two men wearing black ski masks and driven around the city — made up the story, police said Tuesday.
The girls said they were walking near 32nd and Diamond Streets when they were forced into a white van that held a third child, possibly around 7 years old, with duct tape over his mouth. Police searched the area with a helicopter and patrol cars and scoured surveillance footage in search of the van, only to conclude that the report was a ruse.
“My investigators have ruled the case unfounded,” Chief Inspector Frank Vanore said Tuesday. “We don’t believe it happened.”
He said the girls, 13 and 12, admitted lying about the incident when interviewed by investigators in the presence of their parents. Police do not know why the girls made up the story, Vanore said.
It’s unclear what consequences the girls may face. Vanore said police had referred the case to the District Attorney’s Office for review.
Jane Roh, a spokesperson for DA Larry Krasner, said it is “highly unlikely” that the girls would face charges. And even if they did, she said, that information would not be made public because they are juveniles.
Vanore said the false report had caused unnecessary alarm and diverted police attention from actual crimes.
“A lot of police resources went into this last night. A number of districts were looking for a car that didn’t exist. We had investigators looking for video,” he said. “Obviously, a lot of those resources could have been used for something else. So this is definitely something we don’t want anyone else to do, let alone a child.”