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Police on suspicious magnet: 'If you see something online, reach out to the agency.'

Grand Chute Police giving FOX 11 a closer look at the retail magnet that was reportedly found on the trunk of a car, June 19, 2018. (WLUK)

GRAND CHUTE (WLUK) -- Grand Chute Police are encouraging residents to use social media wisely, and to make your posts about facts, not fiction.

The warning comes after a suspicious magnet was found over the weekend and properly reported.

But that's not always the case.

If you found an alarming item on the trunk of your car what would you do?

"We get a call, officers were dispatched to a suspicious item found on the trunk of their vehicle from mall," said Officer Travis Waas with Grand Chute Police.

His department is hoping you would call police first, before sharing it online.

It's a trend, Waas says they're seeing more frequently.

"So many of these hoaxes we find online say that they were reported to the proper authorities," he explained. "Or was reported to the police . You actually do some digging, they're never reported to police."

What that item turned out to be, police say, is a magnet used to remove security devices from items like clothing.

But Waas says the victim in this case did the right thing, reporting it to police before allowing it to go viral online.

"After investigating, we believe it was put to cause panic to either citizens or police, or just cause damage to vehicle," explained Waas.

Phillip Clampitt, Communications Chair at UW-Green Bay, says often-times social media posts can be sensationalized, "Realize that many people are using social media for self aggrandizement or for entertainment purposes."

Which is why he says it's always important to check the source, before you share a post.

"Really is to check the facts before you post something," Clampitt continued. "Particularly, something that could spread fear or concern in a community."

It's a message Waas says will keep urban legends from finding their way online, "If you see something online and you question, it reach out to the agency."

Grand Chute Police say they usually receive between 2 to 3 hoax crime reports a year.

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