Free-Range Kids

16-Year-Old Girl Admits Her Kidnapping Was a Hoax to Fool 'Overprotective' Mom

Stranger abductions are actually extremely rare.


A 16-year-old girl abducted by four men in a car as she walked down a Bronx street with her mom on Monday night—an incident captured on a video grainier than the moon landing—has admitted this was a hoax.

Karol Sanchez's family is from Honduras and The New York Times reports that they were thinking of moving back there—something Sanchez did not want to do. The Times also said that the girl mentioned something to the cops about her mom being "overprotective."

If this was a ploy to make Mom less overprotective, we'll have to chalk it up as a fail.

In any case, everyone who was very worried about this girl should be happy about the news. She's safe—not raped or murdered or sold into sex slavery.

But let's also keep reality in mind next time one of these things happens. While only a cynic would have said I'll bet this is a hoax the second the Amber Alert went out, it does look pretty fish in hindsight.

How so? Well, it's just extremely rare for a child to be kidnapped by strangers, especially when the child is not alone. It happens a lot more on Law & Order SVU than it does in real life—where, according to the Crimes Against Children Resource Center, 105 people under the age of 18 endured what's called a "stereotypical kidnapping" in 2012, the most recent year for which we have the data. (About 92 percent of them made it back alive.)

It feels as if the girl, Karol Sanchez, may have suffered from the same misperception as Ronald Clark O'Bryan. He's the man who poisoned his son's candy on Halloween, back in 1974. He was easily caught because he had taken out several insurance policies on the boy. But my guess is what really did him in was his incorrect assumption that Halloween poisonings are so common that what happened to his son wouldn't stand out. I'll bet that Sanchez thought stranger abductions are a lot more common than they really are, too.