If You See Something, Post Something
"Child Luring Incident!" read the warning that appeared last Friday on several Teaneck, New Jersey, Facebook and other social media pages.
"A man in a car pulled up and tried to get a child in around 11 am on 12/31/21," it said. "You can clearly hear the child say, 'I do not accept rides from strangers,' and 'no' several times before walking way. Then the driver laughed and said, 'I will follow you then'..."
The post was accompanied by footage from a Ring camera -- the popular security cameras watching over much of suburban America. It showed a boy walking down a quiet street when a car slows down, and someone talks to him.
If you listen verrrrrrry closely -- more closely than you'd have to listen to hear a worm breathe -- perhaps you can make out the boy defying the driver. ("Clearly hear the child" seems to overstate it.) Then someone in the car adds, "We have candy!"
"I said, 'Don't put it on the site! I bet you a dollar it's nothing,'" recalls Keith Kaplan, a Teaneck town councilman who runs the Teaneck Today website in an unofficial capacity. But another one of the site's administrators, his friend Deputy Mayor Mark J. Schwartz, pressed "publish" -- and the news went viral.
"Then it was on, like 10 different Facebook groups within 10 minutes," says Kaplan.
The police got right on it.
But it took a few days for Debra Passner to notice it -- and gasp.
"Oh my God, oh my God!" she called out to her husband. "Because there was a video of our car and our son!"
The Passners had been at a family celebration with their 14-year-old, who wanted to leave early (as 14-year-olds do). He started walking home, with his parents' blessing. Later, when they were driving home themselves, they saw him on the street and slowed down to offer him a ride.