Abbotsford’s online community is pushing back on neighbourhood Facebook groups against debunked rumours of a sex-trafficking ring operating in the city.
The claims, which started popping up on Facebook in December, have been continually discredited by the Abbotsford Police Department, who say no reports have been made at all.
When a Facebook user posted a similar allegation in a popular neighbourhood page on Feb. 11, others were quick to question the credibility of the claims.
“So… a friend of mine posted about a friend of hers that actually turned out to be her daughter… turns out that she was almost abducted from her own vehicle by three men.. this actually happened just a few days ago in Abbotsford,” the poster alleged. “It was reported to Abbotsford police department and there is a file number… Abbotsford police department lied to the community and said that this was false information and had told my friend they had stated this to not cause fear into the community.
“WTF… obviously the APD are liars..”
The poster was immediately scrutinized by the more critical eyes in the online group, which spawned separate posts denouncing the claim. Facebook users began asking for the poster for a police file number, facts and clarifications about where the information had come from – the answers they received solidified their skepticism.
The hysteria began in December after online posts warned of strangers attempting to enter their vehicles at the Abbotsford Skating Club. The club posted an “Important Safety Notice” to their Facebook page, which was later taken down after police informed them no such events were ever reported.
Another Facebook claim was made in Langley shortly after.
“Someone very dear to me was driving on the street she lives on and a car swerved in front of her and 3 men jumped out of the car and surrounded her vehicle. They tried to open her car doors from both sides and the back. They knocked on her windows. We called the police to report it… Since then we have heard that this has happened to several women in Abbotsford. It is thought that women are being targeted to be kidnapped for the sex trade.”
Most recently, on Feb. 11, a social media post in a Chilliwack Facebook group claimed almost the exact same thing.
“There was a man in the middle of the road waving his arms. She slowed down, almost a complete stop (not wanting to run them over). He tried to open her passenger door….thankfully she always has her doors locked. She sped away and RCMP were notified!”
After another media outlet reached out to the Abbotsford Police Department for comment, and they again responded that no such event had ever been reported. Abbotsford media officer Sgt. Judy Bird said when alarming posts like these circulate, the public may not believe official messages when they are put out.