SEQUIM, Wa. -- A young mother caught a stranger using a cellphone to take pictures of her 3-year-old son inside a Walmart last week.
But KSPQ reports that the boy's mother got quite a shock when police said the stranger had done nothing wrong.
"I feel like I can't protect my son," Kathy Wolcott said Tuesday. "I feel like there's nothing I can do to protect them."
Wolcott said she caught a stranger lurking nearby in a grocery aisle holding a cellphone in his hand. When she saw the camera's flash, she confronted him.
"I ask him to go to his camera," she said. "I hit the gallery button and I see row after row of children in Walmart that day that he was just taking pictures of."
Wolcott said the man got nervous and took off but store employees wrote down the man's license plate and called 911.
Police investigated and tracked down the man, but didn't make an arrest; investigators said he wasn't breaking the law.
"Unfortunately it's not a crime," said Sequim Deputy Police Chief Sheri Crain. "People have the ability to take photographs. Nowadays, when everybody has a cellphone, there's a greater likelihood that photos are being taken."
While police said Wolcott did everything right, strangers taking photos of children isn't illegal as long as they aren't pornographic.
Wolcott wants other parents to be aware of who's around their kids and know when to call police.
"This man got away with taking pictures of so many children that day," she said.
Even though photographing children isn't always a crime, it isn't always appropriate either, said Wolcott.
Police said the incident serves as a reminder for parents to keep a close watch on their kids, and an even closer watch on who's watching them.
"You have to be a little more vigilant without being afraid of everything," said Crain. "Be a little bit more vigilant about what's going on around you."