Residents throughout Utah County are warning their friends and family via Facebook to be on the lookout for a door-to-door saleswoman who they allege is part of a child kidnapping and sex trafficking circle, although police officers have found no evidence to support that claim.
Residents from Springville, Orem, Spanish Fork, Provo, Mapleton and even Eagle Mountain say the woman has come to their door in the past few weeks selling children's books and other educational toys and supplies.
Several posts on Facebook say that police believe the woman is part of a child kidnapping ring, but local police officers say they have verified that at least one woman matching the description on Facebook has been cleared as a legitimate saleswoman.
Lt. Matt Johnson from the Spanish Fork Police Department confirmed that they have looked into reports of a woman selling children's books in Spanish Fork, and that woman does have a business license and is legal to sell items door-to-door. They had no information to support the claims surging around social media.
Lt. Craig Martinez from the Orem Department of Public Safety and Lt. Dave Caron with the Springville Police Department both said they haven't gotten any reports about the saleswoman.
Springville resident Brenda Reedy said the woman visited her home and wouldn't take no for an answer. Reedy said the woman tried to talk to her about "neighbors" who lived in her area but Reedy says she didn't know the people the saleswoman was talking about. Reedy said the woman told her these neighbors had six kids, but no one in her neighborhood matched the name and number of kids.
All the same, however, she didn't suspect the woman was anything more than pushy until she got on Facebook.
"I wasn't really suspicious until after I heard something on Facebook and my neighbors were making all these comments," Reedy said. "I have never had anyone so pushy. It was also kind of odd how she was trying to tell me about these neighbors that don't live around here."
All three officers say they aren't sure where all the hype about the woman is coming from, but residents on Facebook are concerned.
"If you have a person who is going door to door ask to see their business license or say, 'I'm sorry, I'm not interested,' and close the door, or don't answer the door," Caron said. "There is no rule that says you have to be nice or polite or buy anything or even talk to them. If you feel like there is something not right just call the police department. We would rather go out on a call and find out everything is OK than not go out and find out something bad has happened."
The Orem Department of Public Safety posted a link on its Facebook page to an article written by News 9, a local TV station in Oklahoma City. According to that article residents in that area have been posting similar stories on Facebook, but police in that area don't know of any sales people involved in human trafficking circles.
Johnson said on Friday they had six calls about the woman -- four of them were asking if the stories on Facebook were true and the other two were just reporting that they had seen a woman on a bicycle who matched the description.
"Apparently people are believing what they are seeing on Facebook," Johnson said. "If a salesperson is doing anything suspicious give us a call, but we have confirmed that she is selling books and that she had the proper licensing."
Reedy says she didn't call police but after hearing about the woman on Facebook wished she would have. She also says that the woman was extremely pushy and she had to close the door in her face.
Martinez said that if any salesperson gets pushy or asks for too much personal information to simply say you aren't interested and close the door.
"Don't allow them to talk their way in your home. Sales people can get a little pushy and we have cited pushy salesmen for being too aggressive," Martinez said. "If you have any problems get a good description and call us if you think they are suspicious. It is always better to be safe than sorry."