Was there a home invader in Laurel, Montana, who in late summer 2021 used a recording of a distressed child to attempt to gain entry into a home? No, that's not true: The police chief of the Laurel Police Department told Lead Stories that there have been no reports of such an incident and that there is no evidence to suggest it ever happened.
The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) published on September 8, 2021. The post featured a screenshot of a post from "Billings Neighborhood Watch," a private Facebook group for residents of Billings, Montana, who are interested in crime prevention. The screenshot read:
My mom lives in Laurel she had a visitor at her house around 11 pm that I believe EVERYONE should be aware of. She heard a knock at the door and all she could hear was a little girl "mommy mommy please open the door, why did you leave me out here?! I'm scared. My mom knowing all her kids are grown went upstairs and looked out the window to see a very tall native man holding his phone playing a recording of the distressed little princess.WHO KNOWS WHAT HE WOULD GAVE DONE IF SHE OPENED THE DOOR! Or who was waiting around the corner. Another wonderful citizen acted like he was hurt hopped on the ground begging her to call 911 (hoping she would come to his aid) Be aware folks. Watch your cameras protect yourselves and your families. Send Smith and Wesson to answer your door knocks. I thought this was important please tell your elderly friends and family.
This is what the post looked like on Facebook on September 10, 2021:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Sep 10 23:01:46 2021 UTC)
Laurel is located less than 20 miles away from Billings, as shown in the embedded map included below, which may explain why the user posted the message in the Facebook group:
(Source: Google Maps screenshot taken on Fri Sep 10 22:58:04 2021 UTC)
In an email to Lead Stories on September 10, 2021, Stan Langve, the city's chief of police, said:
The Laurel Montana Police Department has never received a call like this, nor do we have any indication that any of the information in the post is factual. It appears to be fiction.
Lead Stories conducted Google searches of exact phrases used in the post: "mommy mommy please open the door" and "tall native man holding his phone playing a recording" did not lead to any further information about the claim. We also searched for the more general phrases "laurel mt child recording," "billings mt child recording" and "child recording invader montana," which did not return any relevant results.
Lead Stories tried to join the "Billings Neighborhood Watch" Facebook group to find out more information about the claim from the group's members. Our request was not accepted.