Atlanta police have debunked a report of a kidnapping in southeast Atlanta after a tipster said she saw a woman being forced into a white van.
As it turns out, the vehicle was being used as a transport for disabled adults and the woman was receiving assistance, Atlanta police said Friday in a news release. The police department held a news conference Thursday to ask the public for their help to crack the case.
Investigators do not begrudge the tipster calling police and describing what she saw, police spokesman Officer Anthony Grant said.
“We encourage the public to call and report suspicious behavior and we fully understand some incidents will turn out not (to) be criminal,” Grant said in a statement. “Had this been a kidnapping, that early information would have been critical in our investigation.”
The report was made about 8 a.m. Thursday from a discount strip mall in the 1300 block of Moreland Avenue. A woman told police she saw two men putting a woman into a white van after she got out of her own vehicle, a gray Infiniti sedan. She thought it was odd anyone was at the shopping center that early, when most of the businesses are closed and there is not much traffic, according to police.
It appeared the woman was struggling as she was “forced” into the van through a side door, the tipster told investigators. One of the men drove away in the white van, and the other got behind the wheel of the woman’s Infiniti and left.
At the news conference Thursday, homicide investigator Lt. Pete Malecki said surveillance video did not suggest there was a physical struggle. Investigators were trying to determine if it was a kidnapping or “some type of horseplay situation,” he said.
Police have since confirmed the woman is safe and she was not harmed. On Friday morning, investigators went to the strip mall and “observed what the witness described, which was the daily routine of the female being assisted into a vehicle for disabled persons,” Grant said.
“We appreciate everyone's assistance in this case and are pleased to learn the female was not a victim of a crime,” he said.
In other news:
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.