Mar 5, 2012 6:31 PM by David Ortiviz

Teens could face charges for bogus kidnapping

Five teenagers in Pueblo County may be charged with a crime after causing quite a scare outside a Wal-Mart. Boys wearing masks and dark clothing grabbed another teen and drove off in a van. It turned out the incident was just a prank designed to look like a kidnapping, but their hoax could have real consequences.

It happened Saturday at the Wal-Mart on McCulloch Blvd. in Pueblo West. Two teenagers wearing black clothes and ski masks chased after another teen as at least one frantic witness watched in horror. "The lady says they grabbed him, pulled him back in and he was yelling for help," said Charlene Graham, Bureau Chief at the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office.

The witness told deputies the apparent kidnappers slammed the door and drove off in a van. The next day one of the teens involved called authorities and confessed it was all a hoax. "They just wanted to see what would happen," said Graham.

Investigators say fives teens were involved, ages 14 to 18. One boy played the role of the victim, two pretended to be kidnappers, a fourth boy was the driver and the last teen, a girl recorded it with with a video camera. Deputies say the set-up at Wal-Mart was their second attempted to make a scene in public that day. "(They) did the same thing in front of another store in Pueblo West and they got no reaction," said Graham.

Now, all five could be charged with false reporting. Graham says with the number of deputies on this case, they wasted roughly 60-man hours investigating a bogus kidnapping.

They're certainly not the first young pranksters to face criminal charges. Two young men were arrested two years ago for pouring powdered sugar down a mailbox in Pueblo--they told police, it was a stunt for a photo contest. In another case last year at CSU-Pueblo, two teens pleaded guilty to misdemeanors for leaving a note about bombing the campus.

Law enforcement says the lesson in all of the cases, hoaxes can have real consequences. "And I think that's a part of youth, this seemed like a good idea, this seemed like fun,I don't believe for a minute that they understood all the ramifications of what could have happened," said Graham.

The sheriff's office says if you create a situation that causes people to report your actions as a crime, you can be charged. The Pueblo District Attorney is reviewing the case.

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