This Does Not “Appear” to be an Abduction Attempt, Say the Cops (About Singing Incident)

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Imagine a world where a brief encounter between young people and strangers does not automatically warrant police involvement — or a news report.

Now imagine you were in central Massachusetts yesterday where this “behavior” took place, in broad daylight. Would you call the cops? The TV stations? Would you beg “anyone with credible information about the incident” to call, as if there’d been a mugging, or murder?

The 2016 answer is yes, as this story from WCVB attests. I’m reprinting it in its entirety in case you might otherwise assume I’m leaving out some salient details, like, “All the young men had guns,” or, “A small amount of heroin exchanged hands,” or even, “The driver appeared to be Kanye West.”

BOSTON —Police in central Massachusetts are warning residents to be on the lookout for men who may be challenging passersby to a rap battle.

Charlton police said a black SUV with two or three men in their late teens or early 20s inside, pulled up to three young teenage boys on Dresser Hill Road at about 3 p.m. on Saturday.

One of the men — described as having brown hair and a pale complexion, wearing a gray T-shirt, gray pants and open-toed sandals — got out of the vehicle and started rapping while the other men asked the boys if they wanted to “spit some bars” with them.

When the boys declined, the SUV drove off.

“Although this was suspicious behavior and frightening to the boys, nothing made this appear to be an attempted abduction,” Charlton police posted on Facebook.

Anyone with credible information about the incident is asked to call 508-248-2250.

Phew! That was a close one! Certainly the last thing we want to see kids doing is bursting into song.

So, Charlton citizens, you’ve been warned: Suspiciously musical young men are out there. Let’s get in for some questioning,  before they become a one-van rhyme wave. – L

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Officer! Officer! There are some young men SINGING on my corner. HELP!

Officer! Officer! There are some young men SINGING on my corner. HELP! (This group happens to be the Earth Angels.)

 

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56 Responses to This Does Not “Appear” to be an Abduction Attempt, Say the Cops (About Singing Incident)

  1. Tim March 16, 2016 at 11:20 am #

    If Broadway musicals have taught me anything, it’s that randomly breaking into song is normal behavior, regardless of the situation.

  2. Jessica March 16, 2016 at 11:27 am #

    Since when does rap battle= abduction attempt? How mind-warped do you have to be to make that leap? It wasn’t even a white, windowless van, for crying out loud.

  3. Bob Magee March 16, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    Come on! Have we learned nothing from all these incidents?
    Was the van white?
    No!
    Case closed.

  4. John March 16, 2016 at 11:56 am #

    Quote:

    “Although this was suspicious behavior and frightening to the boys”

    Oh please give me a break. Why do people assume that anything odd or out of the ordinary is automatically “frightening” to kids (boys) just because they’re under 18-years-old? Guess this falls under the American mindset that all kids are made out of balsa wood just because they’re kids……sigh.

  5. James Harrigan March 16, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

    It is not clear who called the cops, but it sounds like it was the “frightened” boys. If so, what a bunch of weenies.

    oh, and props to Lenore for the excellent “one-van rhyme wave” pun!

  6. BL March 16, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

    “Police in central Massachusetts are warning residents to be on the lookout for men who may be challenging passersby to a rap battle.”

    And … ?

    If you see them …. what?

    Call the police? Take cover? Burst into tears?

    (Me? I’d just say “you win”. I can’t rap.)

  7. Workshop March 16, 2016 at 12:13 pm #

    My oldest loves High School Musical. I’m pretty sure he’ll be disappointed to learn that basketball games do not mean everyone breaks out into a dance number.

    At what point do these “any credible information” events turn into farce? I saw someone buying a pack of cigarettes. Is it possible he was buying them for a minor? Yes. Should I report that to the hotline?
    What about the few instances where someone impersonates a police officer? Should I report every instance of communication with someone in a uniform to the tattle-tale number?

    Paranoia is a serious issue. I think Boston might need a mass script for some meds.

  8. MichaelF March 16, 2016 at 12:28 pm #

    “….How mind-warped do you have to be to make that leap? It wasn’t even a white, windowless van, for crying out loud.”

    Its the same leap you can make when looking at toys from Monster Jam and seeing something…else…

    I’m with BL though, I can listen to rap but can’t do it off the cuff…they win.

  9. Ken Hagler March 16, 2016 at 12:29 pm #

    Gee, all those times I listed to “Down On The Corner,” I never realized that it was supposed to be a police warning…

  10. Betsy in Michigan March 16, 2016 at 12:32 pm #

    There’s a video “Brothers Bring the Hood to the ‘Burbs at Christmas” http://metro.co.uk/2015/11/30/watch-what-happened-when-crew-from-the-hood-went-to-citys-whitest-suburb-5534542/ going around. Possibly the “perps” saw it, but it wasn’t Christmas anymore.

  11. lollipoplover March 16, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

    I’d hate to see how this town handles Christmas caroling.

  12. AmyO March 16, 2016 at 12:44 pm #

    I just laughed out loud at this. How did anyone report on this with a straight face??

  13. JP Merzetti March 16, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

    oh my god it’s singing.
    There has to be a crime in there, somewhere.
    call cops first, think later.

    frightening, suspicious behavior. There’s the story.
    No-one ever called the cops on Neutron Jack or Chainsaw Al…..
    (but then, they probably couldn’t rhyme their way out of a paper bag)
    Ah, the folly of a felonious smile………………….

  14. Ashley March 16, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

    This is seriously hilarious. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

  15. BL March 16, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

    I’m going to a house concert tonight for some St. Patrick’s Eve traditional Irish music.

    I hope nobody overhears and calls in the Black and Tans …

  16. lollipoplover March 16, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    “One of the men — described as having brown hair and a pale complexion, wearing a gray T-shirt, gray pants and open-toed sandals.”

    First thought:
    Wow, Eminem’s career must have really hit the skids.

    Second thought:
    What would I do if I was challenged to a rap battle me and to “spit some bars”?
    All I had was,
    “I’m not internationally known, but I’m known to rock the microphone because I get stupid, I mean outrageous, stay away from me if your contagious” and I realized I would sooo lose this rap battle. Rob Base would pretty much guarantee me last place.
    No one would want to kidnap someone who quotes Rob Base. No one.

  17. Yocheved March 16, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

    When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way!

  18. BL March 16, 2016 at 1:03 pm #

    “What would I do if I was challenged to a rap battle me and to “spit some bars”?”

    I never heard of spitting bars, though Davey Crockett kilt him a b’ar when he was only three.

  19. m March 16, 2016 at 1:07 pm #

    FEAR THE ACAPELLA!!!!!

  20. Jody March 16, 2016 at 1:14 pm #

    Sounds like they got a bad rap!

  21. Vaughan Evans March 16, 2016 at 1:43 pm #

    Sometimes children DO approach adults(or other children-if they are lost, upset, or puzzled, or injured.

    (A)When I was 13, an walking in a wooden regional park, 5 boys approached me. They were lost in the woods.
    (I guided them to where they needed to go.)

    -When I was 25, I sat alone in a school yard-on Saturday.(A little girl about 10 approached me-she was injured.)
    She did not know WHO I was or WHAT I was.)

    -Little girls DO approach boys and men they do not know.
    EXAMPLES
    (1)When I was 35, I was alone-on the outside-of Britannia Community Centre-in Vancouver, Canada.
    -A little girl of about 11 rushed up to me and greeted me.
    (2)When I was about 46, I greeted a woman-in a mall-who had a girl around 11
    -The girl put both her hands on my shoulder.
    (Perhaps she wanted to love. Perhaps she felt that I NEEDED a hug.)
    (3)When I was in Burnaby(a suburb of Vancouver) a girl of 11 rushed to me-and said, “Give me a hug.)
    (4)Little girls who have been abused or neglected, often feel empathetic of the needs of others-and of themselves.
    They want to love and be loved.
    -Some of them have a craving to HUG a boy or man.
    Some VRAVE to BE hugged by a boy or man.
    Some want both.
    The reasons are simple. Girls and women(like boys and men)are still sexual beings.
    The emotional needs of young teen and pre-teen girls differ from those of their male counterparts.)
    -The physiological changes that girls go through-past puberty differ.
    BESIDES:
    (a)What sex still gives birth-to a child of either sex.
    (b)what sex still goes through menstrual periots
    (c)and what sex goes through “morning sickness” when pregnant
    (d)and what sex gets labour pains.

  22. Reziac March 16, 2016 at 1:44 pm #

    I wonder what they’d think of me, were I a kid today. I was one of those kids who would talk to stranger-adults who were doing interesting things. I had adult friends all along my route to and from school.

    I learned a lot about gardening, and if I’d ever had an emergency en route, had lots of doors I could knock on.

  23. Kerri March 16, 2016 at 1:50 pm #

    And what do the police intend to do with any “credible information” they might receive? No crime has been committed! Police have resources are spread thin enough. Let’s use those resources to investigate real crimes and to protect real victims.

  24. Dave March 16, 2016 at 2:03 pm #

    Charlton is a tiny little backwater. Probably has a police force of two, with nothing better to do.

  25. lollipoplover March 16, 2016 at 2:15 pm #

    I’m reminded of my favorite Epic Rap Battle of History, Gandhi vs. Martin Luther King Jr.
    (sound/lyrics probably NSFW):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6G6CZT7h4k

    “I never heard of spitting bars, though Davey Crockett kilt him a b’ar when he was only three.”

    “Sounds like they got a bad rap!”

    I’m dying here!

  26. Curiuos March 16, 2016 at 2:28 pm #

    Teenage boys? Or Marshmallows? Or Snowflakes? Or Hot House Plants? Or Mama’s Babies?

    Do these boys have no Self-Respect?

    A popular song from an earlier era was “Standing on the Corner Watching All the Girls Go By…”

    In Massachusetts, teen boys can’t do that because of their parents’ anxiety about perverts in vans snatching their little darlings? In groups? In broad daylight?

    Best keep the sweeties home under lock and key and adult supervision until they are in college–where every class and event will have a protective disclaimer so the boys can continue to avoid reality.

    We are not evolving. We are regressing toward a new low of wimpiness.

  27. Catherine Caldwell-Harris March 16, 2016 at 2:28 pm #

    So funny. But responding to this comment. “Why do people assume that anything odd or out of the ordinary is automatically “frightening” to kids (boys) just because they’re under 18-years-old?”

    If children are brought up in a society that assumes they should be afraid if strangers try to engage them, they may well be afraid.

  28. Denise March 16, 2016 at 2:39 pm #

    My first vision was of Mickey Rooney who burst into song in every teen musical he made. LOL. No matter what happened, he sang. I read these stories and it is no wonder that morons are running around voting for idiots.

  29. David (Dhewco) March 16, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

    I can’t rap either. I haven’t listened to rap since LL Cool J’s mama said “To Knock You Out” and Will Smith’s parents “Just don’t Understand.”

    The only rap battle I’ve seen is the one in Scary Movie 3, lol.

  30. Donna March 16, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

    “Police in central Massachusetts are warning residents to be on the lookout for men who may be challenging passersby to a rap battle.”

    Why should people be on the lookout for them? I mean people who want to be in a rap battle might want to be on the look out for them, but I fail to see why anyone else should be.

    “One of the men — described as having brown hair and a pale complexion, wearing a gray T-shirt, gray pants and open-toed sandals —”

    Okay so they are not the most fashionable rappers in the world. Still fail to see the need for police intervention since neither rapping nor lacking fashion sense are criminal.

    “Although this was suspicious behavior”

    This is certainly unusual behavior, but I am not sure what is suspicious about it.

    “and frightening to the boys”

    Are the boys really bad rappers and therefore were frightened about losing? Local legend rappers and afraid of losing their title? I’m just not sure what is so frightening about this situation.

    “Anyone with credible information about the incident is asked to call”

    Exactly what credible information are they seeking and, more importantly, WHY?

  31. Roger the Shrubber March 16, 2016 at 3:18 pm #

    Survaillance video has provided this image of the culprits:

    https://56.media.tumblr.com/497e7875b006c5a2db8369e90d1b0dca/tumblr_np4erjr3dh1qa70eyo2_540.png

  32. G4Change March 16, 2016 at 3:19 pm #

    …and a BIG SURPRISE….the U.S.A. once again not even in the Top 10 of happiest countries:

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/16/travel/worlds-happiest-countries-united-nations/index.html

    We are scared, paranoid babies. And when I read stories like this, I wonder what kind of a future we have.
    God Help Us!

  33. EricS March 16, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

    The execution needs a little work. But overall, I don’t believe there is anything to be concerned about. If the kids in the SUV wanted to do something criminal, I doubt it would have played out the way it did.

    When you are looking for something that isn’t there, chances are you’ll find it. Even if it isn’t there. The mind can play tricks on you if you allow it. And many people are susceptible to this behavior. Including cops, teachers, social workers, parents, doctors, etc…

  34. EricS March 16, 2016 at 3:25 pm #

    @Donna: I can see the boys that were approached being “frightened”. If they were taught to be fearful, because their parents are fearful. Then they will be pretty much scared of anything that is unknown or surprising to them. But it doesn’t mean that they are in any danger. They just got scared. Just like people are scared of spiders, dogs, heights, or clowns. 😉

  35. Derek W Logue of OnceFallen March 16, 2016 at 3:26 pm #

    Lenore, i’m offended.

    How DARE YOU put Kanye West-Kardashian in the same story that implies anyone with a SINGING talent!

  36. Diana March 16, 2016 at 3:30 pm #

    Why do the police want to find the van?

    They have a complaint in hand, so they can legally pull the vehicle over, ID and question the driver, and search the van. Ninety nine times out of a hundred, they can find something to arrest the driver for. ( Or if he or she talks back, as Sandra Bland did in Texas; or if he runs, as did Michael Brown in Ferguson, the result is death for “failure at playing the game by the rules” set up by the arbitrary municipality. )

    Something like this happens in every municipality in the country almost every day. We don’t notice it until someone protests. Thanks, Lenore, for being the voice of reason.

    Do you remember the findings of the “US Department of Justice Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department of 2015?” It detailed what every police jurisdiction has been doing since the national ultra-conservative mantra “No New Taxes” replaced responsible taxation policies and forced governmental units all levels to devise new creative methods to balance their budgets.

    Police brutality is a direct result of unbalanced budgets and refusal to let taxation keep pace with rising costs.

    The Ferguson report details how it works in one small community near the heart of the nation. But Ferguson is not alone. Every municipality now uses traffic stops, court appearances, fees, penalties, searches, jail for minor offenses, and the over-policing of those on sex offender registries, as well as harrassing parents for letting kids walk home from playgrounds alone, as means to generate revenue and prove the value of the force of the force.

    Ferguson, like every other municipality, has been using traffic stops as revenue generators.

    I should surprise no one that this is a common practice in Massachusetts as well as Missouri.

    If you see a black van with musicians inside, please don’t call the cops. Please.

    If you want to prevent practices like these, take the time to sit in on traffic court in your own home town. Be prepared for a shock.

  37. WeezaFish March 16, 2016 at 4:00 pm #

    I find it hard to consider anyone wearing open-toed sandals as either a threat or frightening. You can easily outrun them 🙂

  38. Kel March 16, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

    Curiuos,

    There’s another reason the boys can’t stand on that corner to watch the girls: someone will arrest them for leering.

  39. pentamom March 16, 2016 at 4:23 pm #

    “There’s another reason the boys can’t stand on that corner to watch the girls: someone will arrest them for leering.”

    What happens if you do it in Winslow, Arizona?

  40. Kel March 16, 2016 at 5:29 pm #

    That’s true – the girls in Winslow turn the tables (“coming down to take a look at me.”). At least they have the good taste to appear in a flatbed Ford, instead of a white van! 🙂

  41. lollipoplover March 16, 2016 at 5:45 pm #

    @WeezaFish-
    The “open-toe” sandal…no experienced kidnapper would wear such foolish footwear! And why not call it a flip flop or slide?

    I’d be more concerned over a dude in a closed-toe sandal. If he was also wearing an ascot as well it may be Fred from Scooby Doo.

  42. Donald March 16, 2016 at 6:24 pm #

    This story reminds me of the tabloids that were stalking Jennifer Aniston. For about 2 years the headlines would read about rumors that she’s pregnant. The news wanted it to be true so bad that they were pointing to anything to distort into a story that supports whatever the people want to hear.

    People will fabricate any ‘facts’ and turn them into whatever they want. Every astronaut ranging from 1961 to 1972 had UFO sightings. If someone cleared their throat, it would get turned into a story that he gasped from the surprise of encountering an alien.

  43. Donald March 16, 2016 at 7:15 pm #

    Iraq was stockpiling chemical weapons. We found ‘proof’ of this from all the rumors that we wanted to believe

  44. Beth March 16, 2016 at 8:17 pm #

    All you guys commenting on the sandals….sandals are supposed to be open-toed, aren’t they? Mine all are! My husband has only one pair, plus soccer sandals, and both of them are open-toed.

    The fact that I’m fashion-challenged is a given, but what’s the point of closed-toed summer shoes?

  45. Warren March 16, 2016 at 10:05 pm #

    Diane,

    They cannot ID, question and search based on a complaint that is not even about a violation of any law. Not how things work.

    If this Dept. is going to investigate complaints like this, then they must also be investigating the complaints of spouses running off with Bigfoot.

  46. pentamom March 17, 2016 at 9:04 am #

    Actually, open-toed sandals is a point in his favor. It means he’s not wearing women’s shoes.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=closed+toe+sandals&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

  47. Warren March 17, 2016 at 10:55 am #

    pentamom,

    Unless he has a foot fetish and is an exhibitionist?

  48. hineata March 17, 2016 at 11:07 am #

    What’s a ‘pale complexion’? Seriously? Are they looking for a pale White guy, Black guy, Latino, Chinese, Samoan? Donald Trump?

    Rather like the missing toilet, that description gives people nothing to go on at all.

  49. Maura March 17, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

    All I can think of is “Gee Officer Krupke, Krupke you!”
    PLEASE tell me there are people on this blog old enough to remember that…

  50. Maura March 17, 2016 at 1:23 pm #

    Darn auto correct! “Gee Officer Krupke, Krup you!”

  51. Jason March 17, 2016 at 1:43 pm #

    @Maura – I’m old enough to remember that. In fact, I think I wore my parents’ LP out playing that one song over and over.

    Anyone who thinks that giving bogus excuses for one’s delinquency is a phenomenon of this generation ought to give it a listen.

  52. andy March 17, 2016 at 5:41 pm #

    @Curiuos Teenage boys don’t need to stand on the corner to watch the girls, because teenage boys now have internet which has a lot of girls in it with much less cloth on them.

  53. Papilio March 18, 2016 at 8:50 am #

    Rap battle??? You said ‘singing’!

    Um… Aren’t all sandals open-toed? I’d call them summer shoe if they weren’t – and Beth, I’d love a closed-toe summer shoe: my toes always get cold long before the rest of me does! Plus it’s more elegant I think, but I just don’t like the sight of bare toes, so…)
    And what’s this mysterious comment that they’re the same as flipflops??
    (I’m thinking of something like this: http://2.torfs-assets.priorweb.be/products/140682/bruine-sandaal-geox-voor-1500×1600-1392253201.jpg )

  54. Jill March 18, 2016 at 6:56 pm #

    What kind of red-blooded American kid declines an invitation to engage in a rap battle made by strangers in a black SUV who had to be Eminem and Vanilla Ice?

  55. A Dad March 19, 2016 at 10:32 pm #

    Rap?

    That alone should be a crime.

  56. tdr March 20, 2016 at 9:08 pm #

    Open-toed sandals with black socks. Now that’s worth pulling someone over for.