A Langley resident was falsely accused of attempting to abduct two 11-year-old boys near a downtown elementary school, RCMP say.
On Jan. 30, the Langley RCMP released a composite sketch and description of a man who was said to have told the two boys to get in his vehicle near Nicomekl Elementary on Jan. 15.
That report had resulted in extra patrols and increased attention to the area by local police, including school liaison officers.
After the sketch was widely disseminated through the media and by people through email and social media, the man in the image came forward to refute the allegations.
According to Cpl. Holly Marks, the boys were questioned again and confessed it was a prank.
The boys had knocked on the man's door and ran away.
Police consider the man wholly innocent.
"The sanctity of an individual's rights and the criminal justice system are grossly violated when false complaints are made to police," said Insp. Amrik Virk, the operations officer for the Langley RCMP.
The two boys have apologized in writing and in person to the victim.
"False claims such as this one can have long lasting and dangerous after-effects," Marks said.
Police have to act in good faith when they receive information. They release information and sketches to try and find suspects and to warn the public, she said.
"There is also the risk of desensitizing the public if releases similar to this one are made too often," Marks said. "People will wonder if this is just another false report and not give it the scrutiny it may well deserve."
Filing a false report to the police can lead to criminal sanctions, but 11-year-olds cannot be criminally charged in Canada.
The report came days after the RCMP released a sketch of a man who had exposed himself to two 11-year-old girls in the same area just before Christmas. That investigation is still ongoing.