Representatives from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department have issued thanks to all cell phone users who received and responded to a recent Amber Alert issued for 16 year-old Hannah Anderson.
They have also asked those who currently have the alert disabled, to consider turning it back on.
Anderson was abducted from her Lakeside home on August 5. Authorities said a neighbor, 40 year-old James DiMaggio, kidnapped the girl, killed her mother and brother, and burned their house to the ground.
The Amber Alert was initiated in Southern California but quickly spread to surrounding states. The text message was blasted to cell phone users asking them to be on the lookout for the suspects car.
Some users complained about receiving the notification. They found it to be noisy, irritating and in some cases, felt as if it was an invasion of their privacy. Many weren’t aware their phone had been enabled to receive these types of messages, and others said they intended to disable it immediately.
Law enforcement officials have urged consumers to rethink that position. Being annoyed for a brief period of time is nothing compared to being able to help safe a life.
Members of the State Assembly have said they will work to modify the alert program to make it less intrusive and noisy.
The wireless alert system is not only used in instances of kidnapping, according to members of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. They are used to warn users of flash flooding, fire warnings, and toxic spills.
Last week’s kidnapping of the San Diego teen is the first time it has been used statewide. Several law enforcement sources have said that it helps increase the chances that an abducted child will be found.
A national representative reportedly said that Amber Alerts have helped find more than 650 children nationwide. The alerts only work if people know they are out there.
Anderson was eventually spotted in the remote woods of Idaho during a chance encounter with a retired sheriff. He encountered the girl and her abductor along a trail near the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.
Many things about them stood out, he said, the first being that they had a domestic house cat with them. The second was that Anderson was wearing pjamma pants. The camping equipment looked new. All of these were red flags.
The pair also seemed to want to avoid friendly banter, which is unusual for outdoors people who frequent the woods.
When the retired sheriff returned home, he saw photos of the two people he saw in the woods on the evening news. He called in a tip, and the FBI moved in.
DiMaggio was eventually killed and Anderson has since been rescued and reunited with her family.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has thanked everyone who helped bring the girl home safe.