Police warn vigilantes over child abduction witch-hunt
POLICE are warning users of a popular Toowoomba Facebook group to refrain from vigilante justice after a campaign was waged online to identify a man some believe tried to coerce a young girl into his car last week.
An address, pictures of a man in public and the location of a yellow car he was reportedly driving were among the personal details posted online on the back of a front page story by The Chronicle detailing the incident.
Detectives investigating the claims say anyone engaging in an online witch-hunt is risking their own safety and could face criminal charges.
"An investigation into these reports is ongoing, but police have been made aware of a number of posts on social media about this yellow vehicle and linking it to a particular address," a statement released by QPS on Saturday read.
"While the investigation is ongoing, police would like to remind people that the best thing they can do to assist is to contact police if they have any information."
Johnathan Crew, who runs the group in question, said moderating the discussion over the past few days had been "driving him nuts".
A number of posts and comments with the revealing information have since been deleted.
"I am glad (users) are promoting vigilance but it doesn't warrant six posts a day about this person," he said.
"That's exactly what I am trying to avoid, the whole sharpening of pitchforks and people getting in line."
The online response was sparked after Sarah Lollback's Facebook post detailing the incident went viral.
Ms Lollback claimed the man approached her six-year-old daughter at Kmart Plaza in Kearneys Spring, called her beautiful and told her to "hop in the car".
Mr Crew said he did not want to be seen as taking sides, though removed content to protect users.
"I don't want members of our group to be charged with anything," Mr Crew said.
"If you take the law into your own hands you risk a criminal (charge), it's pretty straightforward.
"Some people are using morals as an excuse, but the only people who know the story are those involved - he hasn't even gone through due process yet."
A police spokeswoman said no one had been charged over the incident.