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Mom: Over-reporting of unattended kids rampant in Rexburg

A viewer tip on Thursday had our station asking a question:

When is it appropriate to step in and take action if you see unattended kids sitting in a parked car?

One Fremont County mom said she can’t believe how often police are responding to one Rexburg parking lot in particular.

“I locked the car, and walked inside,” recalled St. Anthony mom Mandy.

Earlier this week, Mandy had an errand that just couldn’t wait.

“I went to Wal-Mart to pick up some diapers for my kid,” she said.

Mandy was through the self-check and out in 5 minutes She said she left her 10-year-old in charge of her younger kids in the locked family SUV parked outside the Rexburg Wal-Mart store.

“They were watching a movie, reading books in the back,” said Mandy.

The arrangement was pretty routine for Mandy’s clan. She told our station she was back in the car and on her way home just a quickly as she’d gone inside.

“When I got home I had a call from a friend stating there were some college kids surrounding my vehicle getting my license plate number,” said Mandy.

That phone call, she said, was disturbing.

“I posted it on Facebook just to find out what people thought,” she said.

Mandy’s Facebook friends reacted, and shared their own stories.

“Some of them said they’ve come out and had police by their car, because someone had reported them,” she said.

Mandy said it’s all a little too much, and she suspects signs at the Rexburg Wal-Mart entrance almost encourage vigilante behavior that can frighten a parent. The signs read: “Look Before You Leave: Please Make Sure Children Are Not Unattended In Vehicles.”

“By the time they came out after grabbing a prescription for sick kids, the police were waiting for them,” said Mandy.

Rexburg Wal-Mart customer service manager Leslie Rutlage said those signs are only a few months old.

Rutledge also told us the store rarely hears complaints, because customers will usually contact police directly if they’re concerned.

Our station left messages for Rexburg Police captain Randy Lewis, and stopped by the station to ask if calls to the parking lot have increased, but calls were not returned.

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