Girl admits 'white van' story false

23:38, Dec 11 2012

Reports of an incident involving a man in a white van approaching a 17-year-old girl on December 2 were false, police said yesterday.

Detective Scott McKenzie, of Invercargill, said that after completing inquiries police were satisfied the incident did not happen and the girl had admitted the complaint was false.

The report caused considerable anxiety in the community, he said.

"While police are always very keen to hear immediately from people . . . who have genuine concerns about suspicious activity, it is unhelpful for both police and the community when false complaints are received," Mr McKenzie said.

The girl told police a man with grey-silver hair tried to get her into a white van in George St in Windsor about 9.45am-10am on December 2.

Mr McKenzie said police would be speaking to the girl about the serious nature of her complaint.

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When asked whether police would be laying charges against the girl, he said he did not want to discuss that. "It's something we haven't decided on yet."

It was not yet known why the girl made the complaint, Mr McKenzie said.

Ray Murray, who happened to be innocently driving past Fernworth Primary School in a white van after reports of the December 2 allegation, was verbally abused and followed by a woman who suspected he was the man police were looking for.

Yesterday, Mr Murray said the girl who made the false report had been stupid.

"Did she want attention or something?" he asked.

The girl's false allegation follows another alleged incident involving a man in a white van on November 15.

On that occasion, a man described as European, with grey hair, and in a white van, approached a 17-year-old girl walking along Layard St near James Hargest College.

It was reported that he tried to grab her arm, but she ran away from him.

Police were still investigating that incident, Mr McKenzie said yesterday.

The allegations had led to alarm and worry among some parents.

The Southland Times