Please keep an eye out for your children as they walk to and from school, or play outside in the yard. According to recent reports, the East Lansing Police are still looking for a man suspected of trying to abduct a young girl on her way to school on Wednesday morning. The suspect has been described as a heavyset white man in his mid-40s with shaggy brown hair. At the time that he approached the girl, he was reportedly wearing a pair of black sweat pants, a black t-shirt, and was driving a black Chevy Impala with squeaky brakes.
The East Lansing student was on her way to the school bus stop on Wednesday morning at about 7:45 a.m. at the intersection of Sunset Lane and Northlawn Street when she noticed that she was being followed. As she turned the corner of the intersection, the man stopped his car, got out and insisted that she get inside. Fortunately, she yelled “no” and ran away.
Superintendent of East Lansing Schools, David Chapin, sent out an e-mail to parents before noon on Wednesday, notifying them of the incident. In addition, bus drivers for the East Lansing School District have been notified as well. Nevertheless, the attempted abduction still had a disquieting affect on many East Lansing parents, who also have children who go to school nearby. Police are currently working with the girl, a MacDonald Middle School student, to obtain more information about the suspect. In addition, the ELPD encourages individuals to contact 911 immediately if they spot someone driving a black Chevy Impala that matches the suspect’s description.
The Child Connection, a non-profit charitable organization that is dedicated to searching for missing and exploited children, offers the following advice to prevent your child from getting abducted:
- Yell, Kick, & Scream – This may seem obvious, but many children freeze when they are grabbed by strangers. Kidnappers want children to go along quietly. Yell– This person is a stranger. Kick – kidnapper’s foot, groin or knee. Scream.
- Area Code & Phone # – Make sure your child knows their area code and phone number. Does your child know how to make a collect call or dial in case of an emergency? Teach your child not to give their phone number or address to strangers.
- Buddy System – A child alone is an easy target. Encourage your children to use the buddy system and to watch out for each other.
- Current Photos & Records – Get photos taken every 6 months of your children and keep a photo on your person at all times. Fingerprints should be taken by a law enforcement, e.g. Sheriff’s Dept. Copies of their dental and medical records are a must.
- Lure Tactics – I have lost my puppy. Will you help me find him? I’ll give you $10 if you’ll help me put this in the car. Parents, teach your children how to respond to these people. It is best to ignore them, avoid any conversation and run.
- Family Code Word – Parents, a code word is a lock and key for your child. Your Mom and Dad have been in a car wreck. You need come with me right now! Child: What is the code word? If they don’t know it then child doesn’t go. The child runs away from that person and tells whomever is responsible for them–teacher or parent–what happened. Get a description of the perpetrator if possible.
- Separation Plan – Teach your children to go to a cashier or ticket booth if they are separated from you while at a mall, amusement park, or any place you travel.
- Check Route to School – The route to school should be established by a parent and under no circumstances should the child deviate from that route. Avoid alleys, etc.
- Notify School – Make sure the school will notify you if your child does not arrive at school. Let the Principal know who is authorized to pick up your child.
- Communication – Keep good communication lines open with your children.
- Neighbors – Organize a block watch and participate in a safe home program.
- Child’s Clothes – Make a mental note of what your child wears every day! Do not put your child’s name on the outside of their clothing because it allows a stranger to become verbally intimate with your child. Put their name on inside of clothes.