Every year, and especially during the summer, we see warnings about leaving pets or children unattended in cars. There are constant PSAs and many tragic stories to remind people of the serious consequences of such actions — but they keep happening.
So when one well-intentioned good Samaritan in the U.K. spotted a baby strapped into a booster seat and left in a vehicle in a parking lot, she did what you’re supposed to do and called the police.
The police arrived, saw the infant unresponsive in the seat, broke one of the windows on the Nissan Qashqai and rescued the child.
Except for one small issue: The baby was a doll. A very lifelike doll, but a doll nonetheless.
When 36-year-old mom Amy McQuillen of Thornaby, Teesside, returned to her car with her 10-year-old, Darci, she was told police were looking into a “report of child neglect.”
She couldn’t believe it had all been over her daughter’s Christmas present, a “Reborn” doll she’d named Elliott.
“They then said a newborn baby had been left in the car so I said: ‘It’s a doll!’ I couldn’t believe it,” she said, according to The Sun. “I know the dolls are realistic but I didn’t think anything like this would ever happen.
“I didn’t see Darci had placed Elliott in the booster seat and put the belt on him. Even if I had I wouldn’t have thought anything of it. . . she was just playing.”
Apparently, when she wasn’t looking, Darci had placed the lifelike doll into the booster seat and strapped it in, adding to the lifelike effect, however unintentionally.
The good Samaritan who’d called it in allegedly said the baby had been moving.
“The officers later explained that someone had called them to say they had seen the baby moving, but then it had stopped moving and they couldn’t see it breathing,” McQuillen continued. “I’ve no idea what that was all about as it’s a doll.
“I do understand that the police have got to act when they get a call like this — as a mother I’d be angry if they didn’t. But it was humiliating for me in front of lots of people, and I was left with a broken window and upset daughter.
“The officers were apologetic once it was all cleared up and they went to check my daughter was OK.”
The awkward situation concluded with the police department promising to pay £264 (around $355) for the busted window.
“On this occasion it was not what it seemed but it was reported with the best intentions,” a spokesperson for the police department said. “Officers would always rather establish a crime has not occurred than miss an opportunity to safeguard a child.”
The Cleveland Police took to Facebook to maintain that people should always contact the police if they see — or are convinced they see — a baby in a bad situation. They also shared a picture of the doll in the booster seat to show just how real it looked.
“The owner returned as this was happening and it was established that the reporting person had mistaken a life-like doll, which was fastened into a child seat in the vehicle, for a baby,” the post stated. “You can see what the caller had seen in this picture and the call was made with the best intentions.
“The owner was not arrested, will be reimbursed for the damaged window and we appreciated them being understanding of the unusual circumstances. We’d always rather establish a crime has not occurred than miss an opportunity to safeguard a child.
“Sadly people are too often cautious to report concerns about a child and we’d like to take the opportunity to say if you believe a child is at risk, please call us on 101. Or dial 999 if you believe a crime is in progress.
“We’re never embarrassed or inconvenienced to have reacted quickly to a call that a child is potentially at risk. It’s always the best outcome when this is not the case and the officers attending on that day resolved the matter — reflected on how you can never predict what you will attend each shift! — and quickly moved on to the next 999 call, doing their best to serve the public throughout their time on duty.”
Plenty of people commented on the police’s Facebook post to say that they would’ve thought the doll was a real baby, too. What do you think?
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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