When Patricia Weaver saw three men wrestle a screaming teenage girl into the cab of a baby blue pickup on her cul-de-sac and drive off, she did what any mother would do: She called police.
What Weaver didn't realize was that the kidnapping she witnessed in Ijamsville, recorded by one of the girl's friends, was the latest episode of reality television in Frederick County.
The phony kidnapping, a stunt arranged by the girl and five friends, joins a pair of much more serious crimes on camera in the county last year: the videotaped beating of a high school quarterback in August and the filming in September of motorcyclists performing stunts along U.S. 340, one of which resulted in a fatal accident.
This time, nothing was lost but time the police could have spent looking for real criminals. Weaver's 911 call touched off an intense hunt for the girl Sunday afternoon, with authorities scrambling more than a dozen deputies from the Frederick County Sheriff's Office and a state police helicopter before the youths involved turned themselves in, telling police it was a prank -- being taped for an Internet video contest.
Deputies arrested the six teenagers -- three 15-year-old boys, of Ijamsville, Frederick and New Market, and a 16-year-old boy from Frederick, as well as a 15-year-old girl from Sarasota, Fla., and a 16-year-old girl from Ijamsville -- and took them to the county Law Enforcement Center, where they were charged with disorderly conduct and released to their parents, said Deputy Jennifer Bailey, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office.
Bailey would not identify the teenagers, because they are juveniles, or release the video, which she said was evidence in an investigation.
The mother of one of the boys involved declined to speak to a reporter. "I don't want this to go any further," she said. "I can't speak to anyone, he can't speak to anyone, until I've talked to an attorney."
The disorderly conduct charge carries a jail term of up to 60 days and a $500 fine, and the teenagers may also be asked to pay restitution for the cost of the investigation, chiefly the helicopter and the officers' time. Scott L. Rolle (R), the county state's attorney, said yesterday that it was unlikely that the juvenile court would sentence them to jail time and that he would not press for it.
"If I was making the decision today, it sounds like maybe they'll put them on probation, do a little community service and pay restitution," he said. "It's serious, no question, but I don't want to overreact to it. I don't think there was any malicious intent with these kids. I don't think they were trying to scare anybody or harm anybody."
Residents of the Fairway at Holly Hills, a neighborhood of single-family homes and well-manicured lawns, were shaking their heads yesterday at the incident. Weaver, who was working in her yard in the 7500 block of Melbourne Place as the "kidnapping" unfolded a few yards away, was alarmed.
"I am a parent, I am a concerned person, who saw something that was very scary," she said in a telephone interview. "They made a big mistake."
Kids, she said, "really need to think about what they're doing."