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A 'sigh of relief': The report of a man trying to abduct a girl at a park was false

"The Cannon Falls Police Department wants to assure our citizens that we take these reports very seriously," the update says in part.

A "sigh of relief," as one local police department put it, for a community in southeastern Minnesota looking for the man who tried to snatch a young girl from a park.

Police initially said the man grabbed a 10-year-old girl and carried her while running across Lower Hannah's Bend Park in Cannon Falls Sunday afternoon. The girl was able to get away when he put her down to catch his breath.

But the City of Cannon Falls issued an update late Wednesday saying the attempted abduction "did not occur."

During another interview later, the victim acknowledged to police the abduction attempt did not happen.

"There was a tremendous outpouring of compassion from our community and the Cannon Falls Police Department asks people to not lose that compassion," the update says. "It's important to remember that there is still a 10-year-old girl that we want to avoid having traumatized further because of what happened."

The department also encourages parents to use the report to talk about incidents like this with their children, and to develop a safety plan with them.

How the investigation unfolded

In the update, police say the incident was first reported as an assault.

The next day (Monday afternoon), investigators were told it had actually been an attempted abduction. And Tuesday morning, they decided they needed the public's help finding the suspect, so put out the alert. Only to find out later it was false.

"The Cannon Falls Police Department wants to assure our citizens that we take these reports very seriously and have procedures in place for both the investigation of such an incident and also the public notification process," Wednesday's update reads.

They also thanked the public for all the tips that helped move things along.

More on child abductions

It is less common for a child to be abducted by a total stranger, according to Parents.com.

Studies have found that in child abduction cases, almost half (49 percent) are carried out by a relative of the victim, known as a “family kidnapping,” while 27 percent are carried out by acquaintances of the victim.

The remaining 24 percent of kidnappings are carried out by strangers, and tend to see more females victimized than males, primarily occurring at outdoor locations. It’s also the type of kidnapping most likely to involve a gun.

According to Forensic Psych, 95 percent of stranger abductions are carried out by men.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children assisted law enforcement with more than 13,700 cases of missing children nationwide last year – 86 percent of them were endangered runaways (about one in five runaways are victims of child sex trafficking), while only 1 percent were non-family abductions.

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