Chula Vista police are reminding the public that they should call 911 to report crimes and suspicious activity before posting about them on social media.
The reminder comes after NBC 7 contacted the Chula Vista Police Department about a report of an attempted abduction.
CVPD Captain Phil Collum told NBC 7 two men in a black SUV approached two boys near the Hillsborough Park in eastern Chula Vista on Oct. 16. One of the men promised the boys a new skateboard if they got in the SUV and went with the men to their house.
Captain Collum said the boys declined, ran home, and the SUV drove away. No crime was committed, but it was “obviously strange and suspicious,” which is why the department assigned a detective to investigate the incident, according to Collum.
While a letter distributed among the community’s homeowner association said the incident was reported to police immediately, Collum told NBC7 it wasn’t reported to CVPD until the following day. He also said posts about the incident surfaced on social media shortly thereafter.
“When we don’t get a call, it’s much more challenging to investigate,” he said.
Collum added police agencies typically don’t scour social media for crime tips, and instead rely on the community to call 911 to report them as soon as possible.
“People think that posting it on Facebook or any social media is one form of reporting,” Chula Vista resident Henry Martinez said. “That’s not the official channels.”
An immediate 911 call gives police a better shot at tracking down witnesses before they leave the scene and allows investigators seek out security video before it’s deleted, which both help officers find and apprehend potential suspects, Collum said.