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OPD: Stranger encounters not connected to sex trafficking

Posted at 5:07 PM, May 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-17 18:49:16-04

They've likely popped up in your Facebook feed, people sharing strange encounters throughout Omaha and they're concerned for their safety.  Now, we're hearing from police about whether they believe a crime has been committed or what's behind these instances.

The Omaha Police Department says they've received reports on four different incidents that happened recently that they're following up on. Authorities indicate each of these situations have similarities, but they're also different so it's unclear if they're related or not.

KMTV has seen three different types of stories on social media in the last few weeks.  One woman said another confronted a female at the 168th & Q Streets YMCA about bible study, when she didn't want to comply the woman got agitated, and left with two men.  A different situation, women are reporting a female coming up to them in store parking lots off of 132nd and L Streets saying her son is sick and she needs a ride.  The third, a woman said she was harassed and followed by a man inside the 50th and Ames Ave. Walmart.

"Initially in this investigation none of these recent incidents appear to have signs of attempted human trafficking or sex trafficking, but we still want people if they have any sort of strange encounter online or in person we still want people to report that to us," said OPD Officer Michael Pecha.

Pecha says some of these stranger encounters can turn out to be a scam or fraud situation rather than sex trafficking.  He adds if the encounters aren't reported to police and posted on social media it can be difficult for them to  locate the potential victim and they can take on a life of their own.

"That can spiral out of control on social media where a person has jumped to a conclusion about what they think is happening and everyone else is on board with that same opinion, and it can really cause unnecessary alarm in the community," Ofc. Pecha explained.

Again, OPD wants to encourage people to come forward if they've been involved in a stranger encounter so they can look into it quickly.  Authorities say be aware of your surroundings, stay in well lit and populated areas, and call 911 if you're in an uncomfortable confrontation.