Reporting Susanna Song
Updated 05/09/13 – 10:58 a.m.
HIGHWOOD, Ill. (CBS) – Parents in the northern suburbs have been warned about five recent attempts to abduct children. CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports the latest incidents occurred over the last two days, most recently outside Oak Terrace Elementary School in Highwood.
Not all of the reports point to the same person or vehicle, but they all happened in generally the same area.
A letter from North Shore School District 112 notified parents of the latest incident, which happened Wednesday morning just outside the elementary school.
The letter said a girl told police she was approached by a woman in a white minivan, asking if she wanted a ride as she walked to school.
“I think people are not as on the defense about women as they are about men, which is scary in and of itself,” said Jaime lens, whose 4th grader attends Oak Terrace. “I think it show anyone … you don’t know them, you don’t go by them, and that’s what the kids are doing.”
The day before, another girl told police a man in a newer dark green SUV approached her at 3:30 p.m., near the Highwood ballpark. She refused to get into his car, so the man drove off.
According to the school, the girl described the man as a white man in his 40s, with gray hair and sunglasses.
“Our schools and our police departments work closely together to help ensure student safety. When police receive a report that they feel poses a potentially dangerous situation, they pass it on to the school district. The police departments take all reports seriously, and investigate them to the fullest extent possible,” officials said in the letter to parents.
Eleven-year-old Monse Garcia said her class had a serious discussion about the abduction attempts.
“It’s a big deal, because they tried stealing kids, but we don’t talk to strangers,” Monse said.
Highwood police had also released two other sketches late last month, after two children were approached on April 22 and April 24, outside Oak Terrace Elementary School. Police said the man offered rides to the children.
In one report, he came up to a 7-year-old girl and told her he knew her dad. In the second incident, an 8-year-old boy told police the man asked him if he wanted a ride home, and came within two feet of him. The boy was afraid, and ran away.
He was described as a white man in his 30s, with “spiky” hair, a short goatee, a hoop earring in his left ear, and a star tattoo on his left forearm. At the time of the incident, he was wearing sunglasses, a blue T-shirt, dark blue jeans and a silver wristwatch.
In nearby Deerfield, police said there also was a report last Thursday of a woman driving a boxy vehicle trying to pick up a 13-year-old girl.
“What is unusual about the number of reports that have come in over the last two weeks is that with the exception of the first two, there is no common description of the suspect, and in all instances there has been no common matching vehicle,” the letter to parents said.
Authorities also reminded parents to teach their children basic safety precautions, including not accepting rides from strangers, and telling adults if something happened that made them feel unsafe.
“People are more on alert, just because that’s happened, and like I said you’re just seeing it around more often now, which is unfortunate,” Lens said.
In all five of these incidents, the children ran away from the person trying to lure them into a vehicle.