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Vintage family photo | Source: Shutterstock
Vintage family photo | Source: Shutterstock

Kid Screams Every Time He Sees Old Family Photo until Mom Looks at It Closer – Story of the Day

Sonali Pandey
Jun 14, 2024
03:31 A.M.

Little Adam began crying whenever he was shown an old family photo. His parents had no clue why it was happening until, one day, the boy pointed at a detail in the picture, and his parents had to go to the cops.

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It was a typical family dinner night for the Lesters. The chicken casserole and zucchini bread were swiftly finished, and everyone moved on to wine and cheese, which Linda's husband Jake had specially chosen from the town's famous fromagerie.

Sipping the Cabernet Sauvignon, Jake was talking to his brother Steve while Linda and Steve's wife Gina sat on the sofa, sipping wine and flipping through their family album.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

"Doesn't Adam look exactly like his Grandpa?" Linda smiled as she held out a photograph in front of her son. "Adam, honey," she called out. "Would you like to see our family photos with Aunt Gina?"

The little boy stopped playing with his remote control car and looked up. As he stared at the photo, his eyes welled up with tears.

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"Oh, Adam! What's wrong?" Linda asked worriedly. "What happened, honey?"

Before Linda would say another word, Adam threw away his toy car and burst into tears.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

"Hey, hey, it's OK," Linda consoled the little boy, but nothing would calm Adam down. He kept crying and throwing things around in anger.

"I'll take him to his room!" Linda cried, realizing Adam's tantrums would only get worse in front of everyone. The worried mother snatched him up and took him upstairs. She sat with her little boy for a few minutes, and he soon calmed down. Linda wanted to stay with him longer, but he preferred to be with Mr. Fluffy, his teddy bear.

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***

"Steve wanted to see Jake's new car, so they left for the garage," Gina said as Linda returned to the living room.

"OK," Linda replied. She didn't even look up at Gina and disappeared into the kitchen and started cleaning the dirty dishes. When Gina joined her, Linda could no longer keep herself from crying.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

"Oh, Linda…it's been more than a year. Has there been no progress at all?" Gina asked, placing a reassuring hand on Linda's shoulder.

Linda shook her head, wiping at her tears. "Adam doesn't talk and barely smiles..." she said quietly. "The…the doctor said the mental trauma was severe. We've already tried several psychologists. We thought he was returning to normal! He had even started smiling occasionally.

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"You know, he even tried to open up to us once or twice, but then everything just went downhill. Now he just screams and cries, and that's all. I'm exhausted, Gina. I really am," Linda sighed, letting go of the plate she was cleaning.

It smashed into bits, but she barely had the strength to clean the mess.

Linda's mind flashed back to the day her son was taken away from her.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

Adam was kidnapped a year ago, and the alleged perpetrators had demanded ransom from Jake and Linda. The poor parents emptied their savings accounts and were on their way to get their son back when Jake got a call from the police.

The inspector on the line told him that Adam had been discovered by a truck driver in the western part of the town. Unfortunately, the cops were not able to track the kidnappers down.

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"What about the truck driver who found Adam? They didn't suspect him?" Gina asked.

"He had an alibi, it seems. He was on one of those long-haul trips…" Linda sniffled. "He was returning home when he found my Adam…On the road. By the sidewalk…I wonder what would've happened if he had never found my boy!" Linda's knees buckled, and she broke down again.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

Gina wrapped her arms around Linda and helped her sit at the kitchen counter. Then she got her some water and cleaned up the chards of the broken dish.

"It's always that photo," Linda broke the strange silence between her and Gina. "I'm wondering what that picture has to do with it all."

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"That photo?" Gina asked, confused.

Linda nodded. "The picture I showed Adam today…of his grandparents," she said. "I've shown it to Adam a couple of times, and every time, he just loses it!"

It was a fairly simple and beautiful snap of his rather young grandparents enjoying their evening meal. But that photo was Adam's nightmare. He screamed, cried, threw things around angrily whenever he saw it, and Linda never understood why.

"Oh, Linda…" Gina whispered, putting her hand over hers. "Kids sometimes get scared when they look at old photos. Don't read too much into it."

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

"He doesn't react like that to other old photos," Linda said, and at that moment, Steve and Jake returned from the garage.

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"It's getting late, Gina! Let's leave, yeah?" Steve said, and Gina forced a smile.

"Yes, sure," she said, grabbing her purse.

"Take care," Gina hugged Linda. "You know you can always come to me if something bothers you. OK?"

As Steve and Gina's car disappeared down the street, Jake noticed the worried look on his wife's face. Linda couldn't hold herself back and told him everything. Jake was worried when he learned Adam was reacting aggressively toward that photo.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Unsplash

"I'll talk to him. Maybe he'll tell me what's bothering him?" Jake told Linda that night. But Linda said she'd try talking to Adam again, and if she was unsuccessful, she would ask for his help. She climbed the stairs to Adam's room and saw the boy was awake.

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"Adam, can Mommy come in?" Linda gently asked, and little Adam nodded while in bed.

"Mommy noticed something's bothering you lately, honey," she said. "You know that your daddy is a superhero, right? He can fight all the bad guys for you! And Mommy's always by your side. What is it, Adam? Why do you cry every time you see that picture of your grandparents?" Linda asked.

Adam didn't say anything, but he hugged Mr. Fluffy tightly and looked very nervous.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

"Adam…" Linda sat down on the bed beside him. "Look, Mommy and Daddy love you, OK? We will never, ever let anyone hurt you, but you need to tell us what's going on so we can help, OK? Sorry, but let's try."

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With that, Linda pulled out the photo Adam dreaded from behind her and showed it to him. The little boy's brows furrowed, and he began crying. Linda tried to quiet him, but he wouldn't listen. He tossed away his blanket and jumped out of bed, screaming.

"Adam, it's OK," Linda said as she approached him. "Just point with your finger and tell me what about this picture bothers you so much! Come on, honey!"

Adam couldn't utter a word, but he reacted this time. He pointed at the wall painting behind his grandparents and then turned away from Linda. But he wouldn't stop crying and screaming, so Linda called Jake for help.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

"Hey, champ, Dad's here for you. Why are you worried?" Jake said, scooping Adam up and tucking him back into his bed. "Don't worry, alright? Daddy and Mommy won't let anything bad happen to you. I promise you. Do you think you recognize that place in the hanging frame? Yes?"

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Adam was sniffling and nodded his head. "Great job, champ! Look, Linda, our little boy is so brave! Hey, Adam, you know what? Daddy will play a fun game with you! Like you, I'm not feeling sleepy, either. And your mommy didn't let me have my favorite dessert after dinner, so I'm upset with her! A good game ought to cheer us up."

Adam hugged his teddy bear and stared at Jake, gently nodding.

"So, shall we start?" Jake smiled. "It's a very simple game. We will talk about our fears, OK? When Daddy was a little boy like you, he was very scared of the dark! So Daddy's Mommy got him a lovely lamp! And Daddy was never scared! Now, it's your turn to tell me what you're scared of! If you don't want to say it out loud, how about you show it to us? Linda, could you please pass me Adam's English book?"

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

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"Yes, sure!" Linda smiled.

"OK, Adam," Jake said, smiling. "How about you use the words and letters in here to tell Daddy what you're scared of?"

Little Adam sat up on the bed, clutching the book with his tiny fingers. Linda and Jake exchanged a glance as Adam began turning the pages.

He first stopped at the third page and pointed to an "I."

"I?" asked Jake, and Adam nodded. The little kid then flicked back through the pages, pointing to "was."

"Good job, champ! Go ahead!" Jake encouraged, and Adam flipped to the last word he wanted to tell his parents, "Here!"

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

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"I—was—here!" Linda cried. "Is that what you wanted to tell Daddy? You've been to the place in the painting?"

Adam nodded, and his eyes began welling up again. "Oh, it's OK, champ," Jake hugged his little son. "Have you visited it before, champ? Or did someone take you there?"

Feeling safe in his daddy's embrace, the young boy nodded, and Linda and Jake now knew what was bothering their son all along.

As the parents returned from Adam's room after the boy dozed off, Jake told Linda he would visit the police station the next morning. And that's exactly what Jake did.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Unsplash

He drove to the station to meet with the investigator assigned to Adam's case. But he didn't see the man around, so he had to speak with another cop.

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"How am I supposed to help you?" Officer Peterson asked, his gaze fixed on the file he was reading.

"There's been a development, officer," Jake told him. "I need you to reopen my son's case. And I was wondering if I could meet Detective Ryle. Actually, he was the detective assigned to the case."

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

Officer Peterson didn't even look up at Adam and was still engrossed in his file. "And may I ask what is the development you're so confident about? I hope you're not wasting the time of this country's police force," he casually said.

"This," Jake said, pushing his parents' photo toward Officer Peterson. "Last night, my son recognized the place that's painted in the picture in my old family photo. He said he was there! He was kept there, officer!"

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Officer Peterson set his file down and lifted the photograph. "And you have no idea where this place is?" he asked.

"Unfortunately not, sir," Jake said. "So…I'm guessing this is enough to reopen the case, yes? And to look for leads again?"

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

"We'll see what we can do, sir," Officer Peterson answered calmly. "Leave the picture with me. But right now, we have a lot on our plates. Because the investigators are overworked, you'll have to wait until Detective Ryle has enough time to consider your case. He's already swamped with work."

Jake could see the cop wasn't taking the situation seriously. "I need to meet with Detective Ryle! I'm not giving you the photograph!" he cried, snatching it from the officer's hand.

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"Relax, sir!" Officer Peterson shot back. "This is a public place; you may want to watch your tone! We'll see what we can do, and that concludes this conversation!" he added, leaning back in his chair. "Now, the exit's behind you!"

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

Jake lost his cool at the officer's callous attitude. He stormed out of the station, almost slamming the door. As he walked back to his car, he called Steve.

"Hey, Jake, what's up?" asked his brother.

"I need your help, Steve," Jake said. "Remember that photo that made Adam cry last night?"

"Ummm," paused Steve. "Yeah, what about it?"

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"I just emailed it to you," Jake explained. "Can you identify the painting behind Mom and Dad? Maybe Mom mentioned it to you? Look, this is going to sound insane, but Adam remembered being there...at that place in the painting. He was so certain! And the cops, well, they're not taking anything seriously!"

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

"OK, Jake, I see the picture, but I have no idea what that place is! Are you positive Adam is not mistaking the painting for something else? He's only 5! And you see these kinds of drawings appear in their cartoons all the time," Steve said.

"Nah, I'm confident, Steve. Adam wasn't lying or confused, and he looked damn serious about it," Jake told his brother.

"Sorry, bro. But I really have no clue about it," Steve replied, and soon he disconnected the call.

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When Jake returned home, Linda was hopeful about a positive development in their son's case. But when Jake told her everything, she was very disappointed. "What are we going to do now, Jake?" she asked him.

"I don't know…" Jake replied, but an idea was brewing in his mind.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

"How about we look for this place together?" He and Linda chorused, and as they looked at each other, they smiled.

How long had it been since they had smiled like that?

"I think that's the only way to figure things out," Jake said.

So Linda and Jake took matters into their own hands and started their own investigation.

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They left Adam in the care of a neighbor the next day and drove to the spot where their little boy was discovered a year ago by a random truck driver.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

The painting that made Adam cry showed a freshly built barn and a pond with a backdrop of a picturesque landscape. Linda and Jake used Google Maps to locate all the water bodies in their vicinity, but each pond or lake they visited left them disappointed.

None of the places were identical to the one represented in the artwork.

After eight hours of searching, Linda and Jake arrived at yet another pond. The sun had started setting by then, and they were utterly disappointed when they found an abandoned farm there but no barn.

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"I think Steve was right," Jake sighed. "Perhaps Adam mistook it for something else. I think we should stop this search here."

"JAKE!" Linda cried, her gaze fixed on the photo. "I think we're here! Follow me!"

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

Linda dashed to the abandoned farm, Jake behind her, and there it was! The barn! Just like the one in the painting! Behind the farm cottage! Except it was old now.

"The location looked too similar to the one in the painting, and I thought maybe the picture was from before this entire farm was built?" Linda guessed.

"You're right," Jake said, looking from the picture to the barn. "Come on, let's check it out."

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As Jake and Linda stepped inside the barn, a strong odor of something decaying met their noses. They looked about, and it appeared no one had been there in years. Old farming tools were left abandoned in one corner, and Linda recoiled in horror when they found dead rats under a table.

"I didn't see anyone within the radius of several miles," Jake said. "Not a single person. Not a single house…I believe this area has been abandoned for years. Who would bring Adam here?"

"Jake!" Linda gasped. "Look what I found!"

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

When Jake turned around, he saw she was holding a cap.

"It's Adam's, Jake! It's Adam's! He was wearing it the day he disappeared. Oh my god…" she broke into tears, hugging the cap. "They kept my boy here, honey…Several miles away from us….In this abandoned, terrifying place which seems like it hasn't been lived in for years."

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"Oh, Linda," Jake wrapped her in a hug. "Please calm down. I'm calling the cops right now."

Jake took out his phone and called 911. While waiting for the police, he began rummaging through the barn for more clues when he found a painting behind the thick piles of hay. It was the original painting! The same as the one in the photo!

When Jake took it down, he realized it didn't just show the barn and pond. Beside the pond were two figures who weren't visible earlier. But now, they were. It was a woman holding the hand of a young girl.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

Jake removed the painting's frame and flipped the photo to find a small inscription: "Dorothy M. & Lesley Marie Richard M."

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"Oh no," Jake sighed. "I can't believe this…"

"What is it, Jake?" Linda asked. "Oh my god! Are you crying?"

As Jake put two and two together, he nodded. "I know this place," he said. "It belonged to my great-grandmother!"

"What?" Linda was stunned. "But earlier, you said you didn't know anything! We were roaming around like idiots the whole day! How are you so sure now?"

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

"The names behind the frame...do you see this woman and child in the picture? That's my great-granny and grandmother," he revealed. "I only recalled it now. When I was a kid...I guess I would've been a little older than Adam...Dad would take us to Gran's every weekend. She lived in another part of town, so I had no idea she was telling the truth when she said she owned a farm here...in the west of town.

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"I would think I was so smart as a kid that I didn't fall for her stupid stories, but I guess I was not that smart," Jake sighed. "She used to tell us about the angry red hens she used to fear when collecting eggs and the cows my great-grandmother had raised here. Gran inherited the farm from my great-grandmother."

"And what after your Gran died? She passed away two years before we got married, right?" Linda asked, horrified.

"Yes," Jake nodded sadly. "But she had sold it to someone long back….when Steve was 10. I wasn't even born then."

"So, someone who bought the farm from your grandmother kidnapped our son?" Linda asked him.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Unsplash

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Before Jake could answer, the siren of police cruisers distracted them. When they left the barn, they noticed the cops had arrived, and Detective Ryle was also there.

"I know what happened at the station, Mr. Lester," the detective said, approaching Jake and Linda. "I'm very sorry I couldn't meet you the other day. Can I have a look at the cap?"

Detective Ryle studied it and stuffed it into an evidence bag with his handkerchief. Then he put on his gloves. "I think we'll need to search the entire facility. You and Mrs. Lester can go back or stay as you wish."

"We'll stay," Linda said immediately.

Detective Ryle's team inspected the farm and barn that night, and Adam's cap was sent for forensic examination. However, they didn't find anything valuable.

"The place has nothing but decayed animal remains," Detective Ryle said disappointedly.

"Did you look at the painting?" Jake asked. "I have to tell you something, officer…".

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

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"The painting was taken by my team, Mr. Lester. And, yeah, I saw it, but may I ask who else in your family knows about it or this place?"

Jake sighed. "Only my brother and his wife…To be honest, they are our only close relatives, and they know about the painting...I'm not sure about Gina, but Steve knows about this place. He used to come here often with my grandmother; that's what I recall," he said.

Detective Ryle raised a brow. "Please be more precise, Mr. Lester. What are you trying to suggest? That your brother was involved in all of this?"

Jake couldn't believe it, but he was doubting Steve now. When Steve was a child, their grandmother often brought him to the barn, and she used to narrate her and Steve's farm stories to Jake. But when Jake had asked Steve if he knew anything about the barn, Steve had said a flat no.

"Well, we'll have to summon your brother for questioning then! We'll go over his previous statements again. But, Mr. and Mrs. Lester, we'll need your help. Let's set a little trap for your loved ones, yes?" Detective Ryle said seriously. "I don't think your brother is the only one I'm suspicious of right now!"

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

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As Detective Ryle suggested, Jake dialed Steve.

"Hey, hi, Steve," Jake said as his brother answered the call. "There's good news, brother! I just got word from the cops that they used satellite photography to track down the building and area in the painting. The cops have called Linda and me, and we're heading to the location together tomorrow! We're hoping to find something there. Isn't that incredible, Steve? There's a real chance we'll catch those scoundrels now!!"

"Wow! I mean, that's great news, Jake!" Steve said. "So, um, how did they do it? I mean, I recall the cops saying they weren't optimistic about reopening the case."

"Oh, I have no idea, Steve. But, hey, could you and Gina just watch Adam tomorrow while we're with the cops? I hope it isn't too much trouble."

"Oh, c'mon, Jake. We love Adam; no problem at all. I…I just hope whoever did this to my nephew is arrested!"

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

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"Of course. And thank you!" Jake said as he hung up.

"And now we patiently watch," Detective Ryle said. "I've dispersed my team throughout the area, and they're very alert. If your brother, his wife, or both of them had to do something, they would come here to take care of it. Now, come on; we need to get out of here."

Jake and Linda sat in Detective Ryle's car, watching the property from afar. There was no substantial movement for the first 30 minutes.

But then, a car stopped right outside the barn.

It was Steve's.

As the car door opened, Linda's hands went to her mouth in shock.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

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Steve retrieved a gasoline can from the trunk, ready to set fire to the entire farm. That would erase all evidence of his presence.

But as he neared the barn, two officers knocked him to the ground and handcuffed him.

"You are under arrest for planning and carrying out the abduction of your nephew," Detective Ryle said as he approached the man. "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law!"

"Let go off me!" Steve cried. "What the hell! Jake and Linda? You are here, too?"

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

Jake and Linda couldn't believe Steve was the mastermind behind Adam's disappearance.

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"Why did you do it, Steve? Just why? You know how worried we've been all this time! You've seen how traumatizing the whole thing has been for Adam!"

Steve spat on the ground. "You are your little twat of a son deserved it! You think Grandpa divided the inheritance fairly?" he hissed.

What can we learn from this story?

  • Money is necessary to survive, but sometimes, it's the root cause of all evil. Steve was so enraged by the unfair inheritance distribution that he abducted his own nephew. He would have received the money he desired if the truck driver had not discovered Adam.
  • Lies cannot be kept buried forever. One day, they come to the surface. Steve kept his actions hidden from the family, but the truth came out in the end, and he had to pay for what he had done.

Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.

If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a woman who returned home, eager to meet her son. But her little boy no longer recognized her.

This piece is inspired by stories from the everyday lives of our readers and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone's life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to info@amomama.com.

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AmoMama.com does not support or promote any kind of violence, self-harm, or abusive behavior. We raise awareness about these issues to help potential victims seek professional counseling and prevent anyone from getting hurt. AmoMama.com speaks out against the above mentioned and AmoMama.com advocates for a healthy discussion about the instances of violence, abuse, sexual misconduct, animal cruelty, abuse etc. that benefits the victims. We also encourage everyone to report any crime incident they witness as soon as possible.

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