>Early last week, I was a recipient of an email from several individuals which claimed that on Monday or Tuesday night at approximately 7 pm, a woman entered her vehicle after shopping at the Middletown Target store and was greeted by an individual who was hiding in the backseat. The email went on to state that the the returning shopper was held at knife point and then sexually assaulted. It conclude by warning recipients to remain ever vigilant and to keep their doors locked.
One person that forwarded me this email stated that they weren’t sure if it were true or not, but thought it peculiar that if it was, why hadn’t the Middletown Police department made the information public or seen a report of it in the local newspapers? On Thursday of last week, I decided to forward the email myself to Detective Lieutenant Stephen Dollinger, Detective Bureau Commander to see if I could get an answer.
Detective Dollinger was prompt in his response, the response though gave me the impression that he wasn’t aware of any such incident taking place. He stated that he would need to conduct a few interviews before determining whether or not this alleged assault took place and that if I called him in the afternoon of the following day (Friday), he would have an answer for me.
On Friday afternoon, before I had a chance to call the Detective , I received the following email from him which was sent to those on his media contact list:
“Good afternoon, I have been receiving requests for information about an alleged incident at the Target store that supposedly took place on February 1st. We are currently conducting an investigation into the matter. I will make sure I release something as soon as we determine whether or not the incident took place. Until then please refrain from calling the police desk.”
After receiving this email, I replied back my appreciation and my intent to wait for an official announcement that would put to rest rumors that were being sent through cyberspace. Unfortunately, that follow up email was never sent out.
Yesterday, I received a new round of emails from people asking if I was aware of or knew anything about what had happened at Target.
This time however, the email that was being forwaded was slightly different and seemed a bit more authoritarian. The originator of the email left her electronic signature/contact information of her place of employment and stated that the woman attacked was her sister’s sister-in-law.
I responded to those that sent me the email by stating that I thought the email was bogus and the incident never happened. I stated that I would try and contact Detective Dollinger again for a response to see if he could shed some more light the situation, but suggested that if a response from the detective was not forth coming they should call the police desk and inquire themselves. And that is exactly what some of them did.
After calling the police station for themselves, a few people were told by the officer that answered the phone that NO SUCH INCIDENT accured in the parking lot of Target and any story of this incident is false.
This information should, I hope, bring some relief to those that have been concerned about it and other alleged unreported incidents that have been reported and end all of those emails that have been floating around cyberspace.
That being said, I can empathize with those that forward these emails. For more than a year now, I have been hearing stories from people about burglaries, robberies and break-ins that haven’t been listed in local newspapers (it was for this reason that I asked to be on Detective Dollinger’s contact list for press releases).
As the effects of the lingering recession and bad economy continue residents are desperate to hold onto and protect what they have left. Rumors of crime are leading many to question the effectiveness of Middletown’s Police to protect their neighborhoods and properties from damage or theft.
Residents want and expect to be kept informed by those, that job it is to watch over them, of things that could impact their life. If a home in Lincroft or North Middletown is broken into, residents want to know about it when it happens so that they can take precautions against further break-ins, not weeks or months later when an arrested my have been made after further robberies or burglaries.
I don’t think this is too much to ask for, an informed citizentry is a happy citizentry. Give people the piece of mind of knowing that they can keep themselves and their property safe by impowering them with information needed to form neighborhood watchgroups or other types of groups within their communities, to help pick-up the slack where the police can’t patrol effectively or efficiently.