RITTMAN, Ohio-- Someone has been knocking on doors in a Northeast Ohio neighborhood, pretending to be social workers with child protective services. Police are now trying to figure out if they tried to steal a baby from inside a family’s home.
"My wife went upstairs for five minutes to take a shower... Come back, my son's gone," said the baby’s 22-year-old father, who did not want to be identified.
Those were terrifying moments for a Wayne County family inside their home in Rittman. Around 1 p.m. Saturday, they discovered their 7-month-old son missing from their living room.
"I was angry, I was depressed and my wife was just terrified. I had never seen her like that, you know, screaming, crying," the father said.
The couple called police and family members. During the brief search of the neighborhood and house, a relative discovered the baby, still in his car seat in a remote part of the basement.
"This door was open. My son was tipped over on the side," the father said.
"We've been looking at cameras at residences and businesses in the area... We've been talking to neighbors. We're very concerned that something of this magnitude would happen," said Rittman Police Chief Ray Arcuri.
The family said about a month ago, a woman claiming to be from child protective services stopped by their home. She said she was investigating a complaint against them.
"We offered her to come in. We ain't hiding nothing, you can come in and look at our house. We just moved in so there's stuff everywhere... She said no, we'll be back for a home visit," the father said.
On Friday, a day before the baby was moved, a neighbor two doors away said a man and woman, claiming to be child social workers, stopped by her house asking about her 2-year-old son.
"They said he was being abused and they wanted to see him and they kept trying to open my door. When I brought him to the door, like they kept going like that, but I had my door locked, and I'm like, I told you, you can't come in," Tracy Cramer said,
"We had authentic people with us and they said no, they don't work for us," Chief Arcuri said.
Deanna Nichols-Stika, executive director of the Wayne County Children Services Board, said any representative from the agency will always have an identification badge. It should have their photo, name and agency details on it.
She said if anyone is ever in doubt, feel free to contact the agency directly.