TOMS RIVER-Police today responded to a rumor spreading around the community social media claiming to warn young girls in the Toms River area that the Route 37 Shoprite parking lot is a spot known for human trafficking and kidnapping.
The department said, obviously, this is just an internet rumor and people who spread such rumors are at more risk than the imaginary human traffickers and young women in the community.
Causing a false public alarm in the State of New Jersey can be constituted as a crime itself.
“We have received numerous inquiries about a post that has been circulating social media. We have not received any official reports alerting us to any criminal activity of this nature,” the department said. “Please be aware that posting unsubstantiated rumors can rise to causing false public alarm which is a chargeable offense. If you have been witness to something or feel in danger, call the police, do not post about it.”
According to the NJ Code of Criminal Justice, 2C:33-3 False public alarms is identified as below:
2C:33-3. False Public Alarms. a. Except as provided in subsection b. or c. of this section, a person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he initiates or circulates a report or warning of an impending fire, explosion, bombing, crime, catastrophe or emergency knowing that the report or warning is false or baseless and that it is likely to cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transport, or to cause public inconvenience or alarm. A person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he knowingly causes such false alarm to be transmitted to or within any organization, official or volunteer, for dealing with emergencies involving danger to life or property.
b.A person is guilty of a crime of the second degree if in addition to the report or warning initiated, circulated or transmitted under subsection a. of this section, he places or causes to be placed any false or facsimile bomb in a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transport or in a place likely to cause public inconvenience or alarm. A violation of this subsection is a crime of the first degree if it occurs during a declared period of national, State or county emergency.
c.A person is guilty of a crime of the second degree if a violation of subsection a. of this section in fact results in serious bodily injury to another person or occurs during a declared period of national, State or county emergency. A person is guilty of a crime of the first degree if a violation of subsection a. of this section in fact results in death.
d.For the purposes of this section, “in fact” means that strict liability is imposed. It shall not be a defense that the death or serious bodily injury was not a foreseeable consequence of the person’s acts or that the death or serious bodily injury was caused by the actions of another person or by circumstances beyond the control of the actor. The actor shall be strictly liable upon proof that the crime occurred during a declared period of national, State or county emergency. It shall not be a defense that the actor did not know that there was a declared period of emergency at the time the crime occurred.
e.A person is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree if the person knowingly places a call to a 9-1-1 emergency telephone system without purpose of reporting the need for 9-1-1 service.