A mom — who also happens to be an Instagram influencer — claimed how her children were almost kidnapped at a local craft store and has since received support along with raised eyebrows, as her videos quickly went viral.
The local police department in the Northern California city of Petaluma is addressing the viral videos, stating the story Katie Sorensen informed her Instagram followers included information that they were not made aware of in her initial report. That being said, they currently don’t have enough information to bring a case.
Sorensen, who runs an Instagram account called @motherhoodessentials, went viral this week after posting two Instagram videos. At the time, she had a smaller following of about 6,000 people, according to Social Blade. She has since deleted her account but her follower count shot up to 80K.
In the clips, Sorensen claims two of her children had been the victims of an “attempted kidnap” at a Michaels craft store the week prior. Sorensen revealed how she felt uncomfortable sharing the incident but wanted to help other parents remain on guard.
“I think right now we are so distracted by everything that is going on in the world that we kind of have our guards up about masks and wanting to keep our children safe that way 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.
Sorensen revealed to BuzzFeed News in a phone call that she wanted to share her experience to empower other parents to trust their gut. “I posted it simply to raise awareness,” she said.
While Sorensen has since made the two videos, as well as her account private, a KTVU reporter Henry K. Lee, shared a portion of one on Twitter.
The Petaluma Police Department said in a statement that Sorensen reported the incident on Dec. 7, alleging she was “followed inside the store” by a man and woman who had “made comments concerning the appearance of [her] children.”
“The couple was said to have followed the woman to her car, where the couple lingered near the stroller as the woman placed her children in the vehicle,” police added.
KTVU reported how Sorensen stated in her video how the couple had discussed the “features” of her children, and one seemed to “reach out, as if to grab the stroller” at one point. Sorensen said she wished she had done more, but instead she was paralyzed.
“I saw these people, they didn’t look necessarily clean-cut,” she informed KTVU. “I felt uncomfortable around them, and instead of making them uncomfortable with my discomfort, I chose to remain in my discomfort.”
Sorensen’s videos quickly went viral on Instagram, according to KTVU, but since has gone private.
While the story not only garnered attention from wary moms online, it also resonated in Petaluma, the home of Polly Klaas. Klaas was a 12-year-old girl who was abducted from her home and murdered in 1993. Polly’s father, Marc Klaas, who has since become a world-renowned child safety advocate, commented on the case for KTVU’s nightly news broadcast on Monday night.
As the story picked up traction, Petaluma police released more details on the case. And according to investigators, they were unable to find the couple after responding to the scene — and Sorensen had informed them she did not want anyone to get arrested.
“At the time this incident was initially reported, there was insufficient evidence to establish that a crime had occurred,” police said.
Investigators said on Monday how they learned of a “social media post made by the reporting party in which she recounted and elaborated upon the aforementioned incident.” Sorensen “included information that had not been initially presented to the Petaluma Police Department” in the Instagram video, according to police.
The police department also released a photo of the couple that Sorensen identified as the suspects. The department then added, “inconsistencies between the two accounts of the incident need to be resolved before criminal charges can be considered.”
Police have since cleared the couple of all charges.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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