Man uses WhatsApp to try to lure Orlando summer campers
Dr. James R. Smith Center put on lockdown
ORLANDO, Fla. – Counselors at a city-run summer camp called Orlando police on Wednesday after, they said, several female campers complained a man was trying to get them to leave with him.
Investigators told News 6 that officers were called to the Dr. James R. Smith Recreation Center on Bruton Boulevard at 10:20 a.m. for a call about a suspicious person.
The mother of one of the campers involved said she got a text from her daughter.
"Ma, it's a man walking around the center, calling kids, and he tried to make us come with him," the text message read. "We stayed with our counselor. Please call me, I'm scared."
"(The center worker) said that he was trying to talk to the kids and tell them how pretty they were," the mother told News 6.
Her daughter said the man was using "WhatsApp," a social media chatting application on their cellphones.
She said somehow he found out they were close to him, contacted them using the app and tried to get them to leave the center and meet him.
She said her daughter said no and alerted counselors, who then called Orlando police.
Investigators said they couldn't find anyone around the center matching the description the campers gave them -- a white male with brown hair.
News 6 sent an email to the city of Orlando asking if extra security measures were going to be put in place, but their spokesperson was out of town until Thursday.
The mother who who got the text message from her daughter said she wants to help police find the man.
"You're messing with the wrong kid," she said. "Hopefully they catch him before one of us local parents catch him."
Anyone with any information about the incident can call Orlando police at 321-235-5300.
The City of Orlando issued a statement about the incident on Thursday.
"We take the safety of all our residents and youth very seriously, which is why our staff immediately notified the Orlando Police Department when they were informed of these allegations. Staff has asked for extra patrols in the area and remains in contact with OPD as part of any investigation.
In addition, all parents who have children who walk to summer campl have been notified and asked to drop off/pick up their children at this time or if not possible, staff will walk any children home.
Today, during the summer camp session, staff will also be doing a reminder education on what to do if a child is approached by a stranger or see a stranger or something suspicious."
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