Springboro police ID man contacting girls on Instagram

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Springboro police ID man contacting girls on Instagram

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Springboro police identified a man who allegedly has been contacting dozens of young girls in the school district via the social media application Instagram, officials announced in a press release Wednesday.

The unnamed man is described as a 31-year-old North Carolina resident who is autistic and has other mental disabilities.

Concerned parents first contacted Springboro police on Aug. 12, alerting them of an adult presenting himself as a teenage boy on Instagram, contacting many fifth and sixth grade girls in the city’s peewee football cheer program. Many of the girls had accepted the man’s friend request on their Instagram accounts, the release said.

Parents began discussing their concerns on a community group Facebook page and one discovered the boy’s photo on the Instagram account was not of the person sending the messages. Instead, it was a random photo taken from another website.

Police then tracked the account to the North Carolina man who is not being identified because of his mental disabilities. Springboro police called the Wake County (North Carolina) Sheriff’s Office, which then contacted the man and his father, who has taken away his son’s computer access.

No criminal activity occurred, and the man has no transportation and poses no danger to anyone in Ohio, police said.

Still, the incident serves as a reminder to parents and children about the dangers lurking on the internet and on social media sites.

“Frightened, I am frightened,” said Springboro resident Jeannine Cromwell. “I know it can happen to anybody and I know I definitely don’t want it to happen to my children.”

Sgt. Don Wilson of the Springboro police department and a school D.A.R.E. officer said parents should be diligent about monitoring their children’s phones and social media accounts. Often times children don’t realize that when they put their personal information on social media, others can see it.

So parents should explain that putting one’s phone number on social media, for instance, is the equivalent of placing it on a billboard along a busy highway, Wilson said. Parents should also ensure their children aren’t befriending anyone dangerous or sending and receiving inappropriate messages, Wilson added.

“By all means, the No. 1 rule should be I get the password,” he said. “Kids who did not give out the password should not be on that site.”