An 11-year-old boy drove over 200 miles by himself across South Carolina in order to live with an unidentified male he met via Snapchat, according to the Charleston Police Department.
Officer Christopher Braun was in his patrol vehicle in the parking lot of a restaurant in Charleston, S.C., around 12:30 a.m. on Monday when the child pulled up next to him and asked for help.
The 11-year-old allegedly told Braun he had taken his older brother’s car and driven three hours from his home in Simpsonville, S.C., to try to live with a stranger he met on the popular photo messaging app. The boy said he had been using his father’s Insignia tablet for directions but became confused after the device lost its GPS signal, forcing him to seek assistance.
He was also unable to recover the address, as Snapchat messages disappear after they are read.
Braun contacted the boy’s father, who said he was already in the process of filing a missing persons report. He and his other son drove to Charleston to pick up the 11-year-old and the vehicle, police say.
Authorities are now investigating the male suspect and have not revealed how he may have found the child on the app.
Following the incident, Charleston Police Chief Luther T. Reynolds pleaded with parents to discuss with their children the serious dangers of talking to strangers online.
“I would love tonight, right now, anybody who’s watching this, who is a parent of a child, especially an 11-year-old, to sit down with your 11-year-old, right now, right this moment and have a conversation about what you’re doing on social media,” he told WCIV.