(Update: Adding video, more comments from Sgt. Janes)
Alert from 'Deputy Harlo' was placed in mailboxes along Day Road
LA PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Last week, La Pine residents in the Day Road area say they received a flier that claimed to be from the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office in their mailboxes, warning of a sex offender living in their neighborhood. While the flier looked legitimate, in reality, it was a disturbing, phony alert.
The fake flier names a person (whose identity was blacked out in a social media posting of it), stating they are a sex offender living in the area.
The “notification to the community” with a sheriff's office header claims “a convicted Pedophile/ Child Molestor and Distributor of Child Pornography is living in La Pine.” It says the person “is not to be within 50 yards of any minor or child.”
“If observed, call our office immediately,” the flyer states, adding that it was “provided by Deputy Harlo.”
While it's not all that rare for people, sometimes considered vigilantes, to inform others about a sex offender living in their neighborhood, the information in this fake flier is untrue, an official says.
Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Sergeant Jayson Janes confirmed to NewsChannel 21 that the flier is fake. He said the agency has opened an investigation and is searching for the person responsible for creating the flier.
Janes also told us the person who was named on the flier is not a registered sex offender and has never been charged with such crimes. He said the person named in the flier got one in his mailbox and reported it. The sergeant added that it's not known how many were distributed.
In the flier, the word 'molester' is misspelled. That's not the only obvious sign it's faulty. There has never been a "Deputy Harlo" with the sheriff's office, so the person responsible for the flier could be charged with Criminal Impersonation of a Public Servant. They could also be charged with disorderly conduct for trying to cause alarm to the neighborhood.
"We don't have a Deputy Harlo that works for our office, so it's obviously fake and intending to cause this person harm," Janes said.
According to a Facebook post, the fliers were placed in mailboxes along Day Road between 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18 and 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 19.
Not only is this phony flier damaging to the person named, but Janes said it also hurts the sheriff's office.
"You know, it's hard, when our entire job depends on the people trusting us," he said. "So if people are impersonating us and abusing that trust, you know, we have to repair damage that we didn't cause."
Even more concerning, Janes tells me the person named, who reported it, is the only one who's called in --- meaning others who got the flier most likely believe the information.
"It causes a greater concern for the public, because they have to trust us in order to keep them safe," Janes said. "And if we have other people ruining that, you know -- it makes our job harder."
If you saw something, have any information about the flier or security camera/doorbell video depicting suspicious activity at the mailboxes on or near Day Road, the sheriff's office urges you to call the county's non-emergency dispatch line at 541-693-6911 and reference Case No. 22-51006.