An influencer who claimed on Instagram that her kids were nearly kidnapped at a Michaels craft store received an outpouring of support at first, but has since been met with skepticism.
Katie Sorensen, a resident of Petaluma, a city in northern California, runs an Instagram account called @motherhoodessentials. When she first posted about the incident, her public account had about 6,000 followers, according to Social Blade. Now she has 81,000 followers and her account is private.
A reporter for KTVU shared a clip of her viral video on Twitter on Dec. 14.
Katie Sorensen says strangers tried to kidnap her kids outside the Petaluma @MichaelsStores after following them around inside. Her @instagram video (partial here) has hit 2M views. @petaluma_police investigating. She & @PollyDad speak out to @KTVU 5:15, 6:15, 7:30 p.m. pic.twitter.com/cG0wnm2JgQ
— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) December 15, 2020
In the video, Sorensen said her two children had been the victims of an “attempted kidnap” at a Michaels craft store the week prior.
“I think right now we are so distracted by everything that is going on in the world … that we are forgetting the most important way to keep them safe, and that is with us and to not have them taken,” she said.
She added that she decided to share her story even though she was “not ready” because she wanted to warn other parents.
Sorensen told BuzzFeed News she wanted parents to feel empowered to trust their gut instinct about these things.
“I posted it simply to raise awareness,” she said.
The Petaluma Police Department said in a statement that Sorenson reported the incident on Dec. 7 and claimed she was “followed inside the store” by a man and woman who had “made comments concerning the appearance of [her] children.” Sorenson also claimed the couple lingered near the stroller as she put her kids in her car.
According to KTVU, Sorensen said in the video that the couple discussed her children’s “features,” and that one adult seemed to “reach out, as if to grab the stroller.”
“There is no other explanation as to why they were doing that besides they were just building the courage,” Sorensen said. “The gentleman looked at me, and his eyes were huge. He saw what was going on, and I just yelled for help.”
She said she wanted to do more in response to the incident, but she froze.
“I felt uncomfortable around them, and instead of making them uncomfortable with my discomfort, I chose to remain in my discomfort,” she told the station.
After the story continued to go viral, investigators said they were unable to find the couple after responding to the scene, and Sorensen had told them she did not want anyone to get arrested, according to BuzzFeed News.
“At the time this incident was initially reported, there was insufficient evidence to establish that a crime had occurred,” police said. They added that Sorenson’s viral post “included information that had not been initially presented to the Petaluma Police Department.”
Petaluma Police Sgt. Ed Crosby told BuzzFeed News that this doesn’t mean the department is casting doubt on Sorensen’s story. He said they released the statement so the public can come forward with more information if it is available because they need to clear up the “inconsistencies” between what Sorensen told the police and her followers.
He would not say what the so-called “inconsistencies” were.
Sorensen told BuzzFeed News that she has been overwhelmed by both the positive and negative reactions to her story. She said that everyone should be aware that “faced with a traumatic experience, it is impossible to function at full capacity.”
“I had no intentions or underlying motives for sharing my story, other than to encourage fellow parents to always remain vigilant,” she said. “I hope my family and our local law enforcement will be given the respect and support we each deserve as we continue on.”
Slow Cooker Potato and Leftover Holiday Ham Chowder:
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