Police say parents' comments on Facebook have complicated their investigation into two men suspected of approaching children throughout town.
"I ask that if you plan to post something on Facebook, please consider whether what you are posting is helpful to the public discourse," Wake Forest Police Chief Jeffrey Leonard said at a press conference Tuesday.
Over the past month and a half, Wake Forest police have received three reports of two men in a gray or silver vehicle talking to children. In one case, according to police, the men asked a child if he wanted a ride. In another case, they asked two children about a kitten.
Parents have taken to social media to discuss the incidents, and police have asked residents to report suspicious activity to them instead of posting about it on Facebook.
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On Tuesday, Leonard said the department has wasted time and resources to check out reports generated on social media, only to find out they weren't true.
There was chatter on Facebook about a 12-year-old who was reportedly approached by strangers at The Factory in downtown Wake Forest. Police investigated and exhausted all leads in the case, said Lt. Brian Mote.
The case does not appear to be connected to the other suspicious cases, he said.
In late December, police received two reports of strangers approaching children on Samuel Wait Lane and Lariat Ridge Drive. The men were described as white, although there are few other identifying characteristics.
On Sunday, a 9-year-old girl walking her dog in the Northampton subdivision reported being approached by two men in a gray or silver work truck.
Police said a reported incident on Monday night is unrelated. In that case, a 13-year-old girl reported that she was approached by a man wearing a mask near the intersection of Jones Dairy Road and Green Mountain Drive.
The man forced the girl to take a handful of pills, and she ran to a nearby house for help, according to police. She was treated and released from WakeMed.
Mote said police do not have enough evidence to charge the suspects in the three other cases with a crime if they are identified.
"They didn't step across the line as far as committing a crime," he said. "However, we can't let that steer our investigation."