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Police warn about hiring workers on social media after plumber accused in teen's rape

(Metro Police)

A Fox 17 News safety alert as a midstate plumber has been accused of raping a 14-year-old girl inside her home.

Police said Derek Justin Townsend faces a rape charge and the way this plumber got the repair job could change the way you do business.

Hired by a Goodlettsville mother to do plumbing work, police said Townsend made several romantic advances toward the woman’s 14-year-old daughter then left saying he needed more supplies to finish the work. When he returned at 1:30 a.m., police said he forced the young girl into a crawlspace and sexually assaulted her.

Goodlettsville mom Holly Shannon said it’s difficult to hear of such a horrific crime happening in her city.

“It'd break my heart if that ever happened to my child,” Shannon said. “I hurt for the parents.”

A Facebook page for Derek Townsend posted on the HIP Hendersonville Facebook page promoting his 24-hour plumbing service a day after the alleged rape.

Many people in Middle Tennessee belong to HIP neighborhood groups on Facebook to find out what’s going on in the community, even hiring people like Townsend to do work at their homes.

“That's why I use somebody who I know personally for his needs,” Shannon said.

Shannon said she sees a larger issue with the internet and social media.

“I think a lot of people put out too much information,” Shannon said.

Lt Jim Vaughn with the Hendersonville Police Department said our constant use of the internet and social media can cause problems.

“Our familiarity with the internet,” Shannon said. “We're on it all day long. Sometimes you get a little bit of a false sense of security.”

To prevent something from happening to your family at the hands of a stranger, Lt. Vaughn recommends having video cameras in your home and telling the workers they’re there. Lt. Vaughn also said it helps to take a picture of the worker and their driver’s license.

“It's always good to do background checks, and you can actually do background checks through the TBI,” Lt.Vaughn said.

The more personal information, the better. Lt. Vaughn said it could scare them away from harming you.

“I think a lot of people have too much trust in people these days,” Shannon said.

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