A white cargo van, with the words “FREE CANDY” painted in red letters on the side, had one Sacramento, California, neighborhood on high alert this week, but it seems it was all a false alarm.
A photograph of the van, snapped by 12-year-old Lawrence Bellow who lives in the Natomas neighborhood in Sacramento, shows the vehicle parked on a residential street, with the message painted on the side. Red hand prints, painted as if to look like bloody prints, are also visible near the rear of the van.
“It looked too fake to be true, but I didn’t want to get a closer look for sure,” Lawrence told KMAX News. “I was kind of nervous about it. I didn’t know what was going on so I just wanted to get evidence in case anything happened.”
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Lawrence's mother, Dominique Bellow, said she first noticed the van at a nearby Walmart then came home to find it parked on her street.
“It just felt like they were trying to trick kids and it just gave me a creepy feeling,” she said.
After photos and mentions of the van began circulating on the neighborhood social networking site, Nextdoor.com, KMAX reportedly went to investigate.
It turns out the van was a moving art display of sorts. It belonged to a family friend of Sierra Deblonk, who lives nearby. She said the friend was on his way to the annual Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert.
“It was a joke,” Deblonk told KMAX News.
She said she had no idea the van would cause so much concern, but reflected that might be a good thing.
“It’s nice to know that if was there actually a creepy white van around that people would be taking notice of that,” she added.
The van has left the neighborhood, but Facebook users, responding to the story on the KMAX Facebook page, are still sounding off. It has drawn over 100 comments, and some said the van was no laughing matter.
“Call the police,” wrote a number of users.
“Pedophile trying to kid gets,” noted another.
But others suggested the reactions were overblown.
“People need to learn to take frickin joke and not get so worked up,” wrote user Andrew Weldon
“I would think it was an obvious joke.... It's too blatant,” user Jen Coombs wrote, in part. “I find it humorous but I can see why some wouldn’t."
Photo credit: Lawrence Bellow via KMAX News