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Wyckoff police find luring report that prompted ‘stranger danger’ warnings unfounded

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

UPDATE: A van driver who a Wyckoff teen thought was trying to lure her into a van three weeks ago knows the girl and had no harmful intent, Police Chief Benjamin Fox said today.

Fox had warned at the time not to jump to any conclusions after the the 16-year-old girl told police she was walking at the corner of Clinton Avenue and Lawlins Road on Oct. 3 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.”

“The girl became concerned with the man’s actions and she yelled to a friend who was also walking nearby,” the chief said at the time. “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.

Residents and business owners remained vigilant following the report.

Meanwhile, Detective Sgt. Joseph Soto and Detective Sgt. Michael Musto checked surveillance tapes of nearby businesses and found a white van in a parking lot a short time earlier, the chief said.

Reviewing surveillance video from the business, they identified the man after he used a store rewards card for a purchase, Fox said.

The man told police he knew her “and was trying to get her attention to speak with her,” he said.

“Because he was driving an unfamiliar vehicle, the girl did not recognize the vehicle or the [man],” Fox said.

“Although this incident has now been cleared and determined to be unfounded, awareness of strangers and concerns about possible luring attempts should continue to be discussed between parents and their children,” the chief said.

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.

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