Crime

Police in Johnson Co. address reports of ‘suspicious activity’ shared on social media

Posts circulating on social media, talking of “suspicious” incidents in Johnson County have prompted some police departments to address the reports through statements this week.

In Overland Park, police said Wednesday that they’ve received two reports of females approached by a man who appeared to be acting suspicious.

Police said they were contacted about the first incident on June 8.

According to the police statement, a woman was walking back to her vehicle at the gas pump in the 7900 block of West 151st Street about 7 p.m. when a man asked if she would go into his vehicle and read his gas gauge. The man reportedly told the woman he was driving from Pittsburg, Kansas, to Omaha, Nebraska, to see his mother. The woman told police she left the parking lot with no further contact.

Over a week later, police received a second, similar report. A female juvenile said a man approached her in the 15700 block of Metcalf Avenue about 4:30 p.m. June 16 and asked for “gas money” to visit his mother in Omaha. He drove away after she told him she didn’t have any money.

The juvenile told police she saw a social media post on June 18 regarding the previous incident in the 7900 block of West 151st Street and told her mother she may have had contact with the same man.

The two females who reported their encounters with the man described him as a white male in his 50s, around 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing around 200 pounds with gray, slicked-back hair. One said he had a gray beard.

They described his vehicle as a silver, four-door sedan.

Police were working with local businesses to obtain videos and photos capturing the incidents, the statement said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Overland Park Police Department or call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477.

Leawood police issued its own news release Wednesday on a separate incident reported to its department on June 13.

According to police, an 18-year-old woman was shopping at Macy’s in the Town Center Plaza around 2 p.m. when she noticed an older woman who appeared to be following her in the store. After the teen left a dressing room, the older woman reportedly approached her, asking about her sunglasses.

The teen told police she felt uncomfortable with the conversation and she contacted a store employee, who told her security had been notified.

The older woman left the store, and the police department was contacted.

Police warned that some social media posts about the incident have included “inaccurate facts.”

Without providing specific details, the Olathe Police Department also on Wednesday posted a tweet, saying it was aware of social media posts “concerning suspicious behavior at one of our large retail stores.”

Olathe police said its department hasn’t received calls or reports to substantiate the posts.

In light of the reports, police are reminding residents to be aware of their surroundings and to call 911 if they see something suspicious and fear for their safety.

Kaitlyn Schwers covers breaking news and crime at night for The Kansas City Star. Originally from Willard, Mo., she spent nearly three years reporting in Arkansas and Illinois before returning to Missouri and joining The Star in 2017.
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