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California

Fearing the worst, authorities stop car with child’s plea for help. It was a joke

False alarm, provided by the South Sacramento CHP
A photograph shows the sign that prompted an emergency traffic stop in Sacramento.
(California Highway Patrol, South Sacramento Division)

Alarmed California Highway Patrol officers stopped a car on State Route 99 in Sacramento over the weekend after a child held up a sign from the backseat pleading for help.

Authorities received a call shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday after passing motorists saw a girl holding a piece of notebook paper that read: “Help me, she’s not my mom! Help!”

With the help of a K-9 unit, two CHP motorcycle officers from the Valley Division spotted the vehicle in Stockton, where they conducted a “high risk enforcement stop.”

After speaking with the driver, the officers “determined that the juvenile had made it all up” as “a fun thing to do,” according to the CHP’s South Sacramento Division.

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The child’s mother “was unaware of what her daughter was doing,” authorities said. Both were subsequently allowed to leave the scene.

On Facebook, authorities reminded parents to be attuned to what their children are doing. Six CHP units were assigned to the call instead of responding to legitimate calls or patrolling their beats because of this “hoax,” law enforcement officials said.

More than 2,000 people responded to the Facebook post, which the agency marked with hashtags including #notfunny and #beawareofyourkids. Most suggested the child to be required to perform community service as a consequence.

One commenter noted that the incident was akin to a British commercial, in which a young girl slyly tells a police officer the woman he has just stopped is not her mother after he asks, “Mommy in a bit of a hurry, was she?” The video, which ends with the line “Born to create drama,” has been seen more than 600,000 times.


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