Republic,Mo. citizens concerned about kids selling candy, wonder who put them up to it

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REPUBLIC, Mo. -- Some people in Republic are concerned about kids selling candy on their doorstep. They think it could be something deeper, and that there could be adults behind it -- exploiting kids for their own gain.

The concern is when responsible adults open their front door to find a young, vulnerable child all alone and asking for money for candy. It's not the money they are concerned about, they say it's about the possible child exploitation.

"It just raised flags for me. Why is she by herself? Anyone could pull her in!" said one mother of two. She says the thought of it made her sick to her stomach.

"She was hasty and whenever I asked her what church youth group she was with, she hesitated before she said it, and that is really what caught my attention."

The woman said the girl was 14 or 15 years old and alone Saturday night when she showed up on her doorstop.

"I went and got her five dollars for the three dollar box and I said keep the change."

This woman doesn't want to be identified, she says she just knew something wasn't right and then asked online if others had a similar sell. They had. Multiple comments from different people said they, too, had been approached at home, and at local retail stores.

"People they rise to the defense of kids, and for me it looked like well meaning comments from people saying don't judge them or find something else better to do, you don't need to investigate these kids. But for me, it's not about me or the kids or the money I lost-- it's about trying to figure out who is behind it."

Her fear is adults who put the kids up to it. A quick Google search shows story after story of this. Elsewhere across the country, people have been arrested for child neglect and fraud.

Republic police say they are investigating.

"If they don't know the basic information, then something right there, something is up," said Officer Aaron Powell. "If you think someone is in danger, then give us a call. We'll definitely respond and handle it from there."

Republic police say no matter what town you live in, if you feel like the child could be in danger, call your local police and report it.