PUBLIC SAFETY: Wyckoff police were trying to determine whether a predator was on the loose after a teenager claimed that a man tried to lure her into his van and a resident in another part of town said she saw the vehicle speed off from in front of her house.
Police Chief Benjamin Fox warned that nothing had firmly been established this morning. At the same time, he said, the situation provided a good opportunity for parents to have a “stranger danger” talk with their youngsters.
The 16-year-old girl told police she was walking at the corner of Clinton Avenue and Lawlins Road yesterday when the driver of a newer model white van “called to her and asked her to walk around and approach the vehicle on the driver side of the van,” Fox said.
“The girl became concerned with the man’s actions and she yelled to a friend who was also walking nearby,” he said. “She then ran away.
“There were no other words exchanged.”
She described the driver, who drove off on Clinton Avenue, as “a light-skinned Hispanic male with an accent,” the chief said.
A Manor Road resident learned of the incident called police and said that her 7-year-old daughter spotted an Hispanic man sitting in a white van outside their house as she was leaving for school yesterday morning, Fox said.
The woman told police the driver sped off when she went outside, he said.
“This incident occurred on Manor Road, which is not in the immediate vicinity of Clinton Avenue,” Fox noted.
“To be clear,” the chief said this morning, “there is no certainty at this point whether this was an actual luring attempt of the girl, or whether the two incidents are the same individual.
“Regardless, in both cases the girls did the absolute correct thing. They felt uncomfortable about the situation, did not approach the vehicle, and called out or sought help from someone,” he said.
Fox urged parents to talk with their children: “Encourage them, just as these girls did, to separate themselves from any situation that makes them the slightest bit uncomfortable.
“Residents should, as always, report any suspicious persons or vehicle to the police department,” he added.
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