Note in car window sparks police frenzy
Police in the US have issued a stern warning to parents after a note in a car window sparked a "high-risk" highway operation.
But the reaction from police has sparked further fury, with some mums and dads arguing it places an unfair burden on drivers.
In a post on Facebook, California Highway Patrol South Sacramento shared a photo of a note that read: "HELP ME SHES (sic) NOT MY MOM!! HELP!!"
The sign was soon spotted and reported to highway patrol, which enlisted the help of multiple officers and a dog squad to perform a "high-risk enforcement stop".
"The driver was contacted and it was determined that the juvenile had made it all up and thought it was a fun thing to do," the statement read.
"The mother was unaware of what her daughter was doing, and after it was determined that there was no foul play, the mother and daughter were allowed to leave the scene."
The Facebook posted ended by issuing a strong warning to parents to "be aware of what their children are doing in the back seat at all times".
"Six CHP (California Highway Patrol) units were assigned to this call instead of responding to legitimate calls or patrolling their beats because of this hoax," the statement continued.
But the warning didn't sit well with some parents who pointed out it was hard to pay attention to the road if they were expected to constantly check the back seat.
Some went as far as to accuse the post of mum shaming, pointing out the driver was probably "embarrassed beyond words".
"I would much rather the mom have her eyes on the road than having her staring into the back seat," one person wrote. "Is this situation ridiculous? Yes! But there is only so much the mum can actually see while focusing on the road like she should be."
Another added: "The kid was wrong but how is a mother who was driving attentively supposed to know what he/she had written? Moms can't do anything right."
Others said rather than just issuing a warning to parents the child responsible should have been punished in some way.
"Child should have been given a citation for what was caused. The parent was driving. How do you expect her to be responsible and drive without distractions if you also want her to be focusing on a teenager in the back of the car that I can assume she thought was being well behaved? Not fair to mom shame," one commenter argued.
"I'm thankful of the motorist who notified authorities because this could have been the real deal and so thankful it wasn't, on the other hand we need to talk to our kids about circumstances of their actions!" another added.
Meanwhile, others recounted how they had been subject to similar pranks from bored children while driving.
"I had a child point, what I thought was a real gun, at me while he was in the back of a station wagon," one person wrote.
"I was so scared that I called 911 with the license plate and description of the vehicle. About 30 minutes later, I received the call from dispatch telling me that the gun was a fake and that the mother had no idea. It scared me to death."