Man engages kids about missing dog to ask sexual questions, SC police say

FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — A Camden man was arrested in Florence for attempted kidnapping after he was accused of asking several kids about a missing dog and then turned the conversation sexual, police say.

Lt. Mike Brandt with the Florence Police Department says investigators arrested Robert Brian Sharp, 30, on two counts of attempted kidnapping after officers received reports of a suspicious person asking kids in different neighborhoods about a missing dog.

Police say on Nov. 7 that Sharp started a conversation with a child about a missing dog on Cheraw Drive. During the conversation, Sharp is accused of asking the child a question “of a sexual nature,” says Lt. Brandt, and the girl ran away. Sharp is accused of doing the same thing to two other kids on Whitestone Drive on Monday.

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Jane Hubis is a neighbor of one of the children and has lived in the area for more than 30 years. She said she was shocked to learn of the incident, but happy to see Sharp arrested.

“I think it was a relief for the neighborhood, as well as, the family,” she said. “That says a lot about our law enforcement and that they continued to pursue.”

Hubis said her neighborhood is typically quiet and she has always felt safe. She said in all of her time living there, she’s never seen something like this happen so close to home.

“That’s probably the most traumatic thing that we’re aware of that has happened,” she said about the attempted kidnappings.

According to a background check done by S.C. Law Enforcement Division, Sharp was charged with criminal sexual conduct with a minor younger than 11-years-old in May 2012, but the charge was dropped in Aug. 2013. Sharp was also charged with assault and battery in the first degree in 2013 and was given a suspended sentence of 10 years in which he served three years and was given five years of probation. According to the Florence County Detention Center website, Sharp violated his probation on Nov. 16.

Hubis said Sharp’s arrest is a sigh of relief for her community.

“Hopefully no one else will have to go through that,” she said. “That awful traumatic experience.”

Lt. Brandt said although it’s difficult to prevent these types of incidents from happening, there are tips parents and children can follow.

“The most important part is have that conversation with your kids about their safety and the dangers of people that they don’t know,” he said. “Take care to be near an adult or responsible party, being in larger groups because larger groups tend to not be attacked as frequently as individual children.”

Sharp was arrested Wednesday and booked into the Florence County Detention Center.

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