Law enforcement officers in Iowa issued more messages about hoax AMBER Alerts last year than actual AMBER Alerts. Iowa Department of Public Safety spokesperson Jessica Lown says most of the hoax alerts are spread by email or text messages.
“The biggest thing that we want to communicate to Iowans is to remember, that if they ever get one of these messages, they need to consider whether or not if it’s coming from a credible source,” Lown said. “As far as we’re concerned, a credible source is through your local media or through law enforcement.”
She says even though the message might be coming from a friend, they might not realize the initial message sender was misinformed or was pulling a prank. An AMBER Alert is issued by law enforcement to inform the public when a child has been abducted and is believed to be in danger of serious injury or death. Lown says Iowans can sign up to receive wireless AMBER Alerts on-line.
“Then they’ll know when they’re getting that text message, that it is actually coming from law enforcement,” Lown said. Iowans can subscribe to the service by visiting the Iowa AMBER Alert website . Since Iowa launched its AMBER Alert plan in 2003, the state has activated the system 14 times.
The only AMBER Alert issued in 2009 happened on January 5. That case involved a 17-year-old girl who was abducted by a 20-year-old man in Lucas County. The suspect was taken into custody just 17 minutes after the alert was issued. The girl was not harmed.
Today is National AMBER Alert Awareness Day.