SMOKEY POINT Arlington police are still soliciting leads from the community, concerning the attempted luring of two 11-year-old females in Smokey Point Dec. 5, while providing both parents and children advice on how to protect themselves from predators.
At approximately 4 p.m. Dec. 5, at the McDonalds located at 3539 172nd St NE in Smokey Point, an unidentified male offered to transport the two girls in his vehicle several times, while in the parking lot of the business, and then followed them for approximately two to three blocks, before parking and continuing to watch them walk toward home.
According to police reports, witnesses described the suspect as a white, heavyset male with gray hair and hazel eyes, wearing a blue-and-black plaid shirt, a tan jacket and tan pants, while driving a newer Toyota pickup, gold-colored with a silver toolbox in its bed.
Arlington Police Detective Peter Barrett acknowledged that police are continuing to work the leads they have so far, while also requesting any information that anyone might have about either the suspect or his vehicle, but he added that parents and kids alike can make themselves safer from stranger danger staying aware and exercising caution.
Not all strangers are bad, of course, but the problem is that we cant always tell who is or isnt, because predators are very good at cloaking their true intentions, Barrett said. They come from all ages and demographics, and can target boys and girls of any age.
Barrett explained that Parents should clarify for their children which adults are okay and which ones are strangers, so that they can further instruct their children not to go with those strangers, nor to accept anything from them, whether it be food, money or rides.
Predators use tactics, so you should discuss hypothetical situations with your kids, Barrett said. If someone comes up to your kids, asking them to help find a lost puppy, they should go to an adult that they trust, and unless youve already told them about it, your kids should never go with anyone who says theyre there to bring them home.
Barrett counseled children who are confronted by strangers to start by saying no to those strangers advances, and then to yell no as loudly as they can, if the strangers dont leave them alone, since unwanted attention can lower the childrens risk. If the strangers still persist, Barrett urged children to run away to a safe place, such as the home of an adult whos okay, a public business with many people, or a police station or fire department.
Their main goal should be to get away, but once they do, they need to tell an adult, and that adult needs to call 9-1-1, Barrett said. Kids are usually pretty aware.
Barrett emphasized that parents should also be aware of where their children are, and who theyre with, by employing measures such as setting curfews, communicating with other childrens parents, and requiring check-in updates when theyre out, either by having the children carry cell phones, or by giving them money to make phone calls.
Kids should go out with other kids, Barrett said. They run a higher risk when theyre alone, because then, they cant use the buddy system to watch out for each other.
Barrett elaborated that parents involvement with their children should extend to knowing what their children are up to on the Internet, since Im working a couple of cases right now, where kids have been lured and groomed online, and while its a bit different than someone driving up to them on the street, its in the same realm. It can be as bad or even scarier, because we have this sense of feeling protected, secure and untouchable on the Internet, but you never know for sure whos on the other end of the line.
Barrett implored parents to check up on their childrens online whereabouts, and especially to educate themselves about sites such as MySpace, where kids can put a lot of personal information out there, and expose themselves to a lot of risks in the process.
The Arlington Police Department tip line is 360-403-3420.
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