SAN JOSE -- There never was a man, dressed in a ball cap and bluejeans and smelling of motor oil, trying to rip a toddler from her mother's arms in their front yard earlier this week, police said Thursday.
In fact, they said, the woman admitted to making the whole thing up.
San Jose police Officer Albert Morales said they don't yet know why the woman would concoct such a false tale, but they are seeking charges of filing a false police report, which could result in a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.
"The entire incident is reprehensible," Morales said. "To think about how many lives were affected as a result, and the fear it caused in this city and elsewhere -- it's despicable. I can't say that enough, especially when it's dealing with kids."
Morales said the lie came to light after detectives again canvassed the neighborhood where the crime allegedly occurred on Thursday, talking to neighbors. He didn't give specifics, but he said certain elements of the woman's story came into question and when she was brought in for another chat with investigators, she soon admitted that the story was a hoax.
The woman was not arrested -- the crime is considered a misdemeanor -- and Morales said she still has her two children, including the toddler whom she said was nearly abducted.
The woman -- who Morales said has a criminal record -- told police and reporters in great detail how she was in her Dayo Court front yard with her two
She said she became uneasy, and picked up the 3-year-old girl as the man grabbed the tot by the legs, pulling hard enough to dislodge her boots before the mother wrenched her free and raced into her home to call 911.
Police released a sketch of the suspect on Wednesday, and Morales said they got the information out to the public as fast as possible because there was no indication the story was fabricated.
He said on Thursday he was trying to get out the new information just as fast.
"It took up a lot of resources and caused such fear in the community," Morales said. "Now, to find out it's just a lie -- I hope everyone can have their peace of mind back."
The case is in the hands of the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, which will decide whether to go ahead with charges against the woman, who police did not identify.
Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.