Aug 25, 2013 11:20 PM by Tony Spehar - firstname.lastname@example.org
Colorado Springs Police are asking everyone to be on alert for a number of men who've been attempting to lure children into a white van several times over the summer.
The first incident happened in June, in many of the cases children reported being followed and approached by male suspects driving a white work van with tinted back windows. In some of the situations one or two men left the van and chased the kids on foot.
Hearing that the innocence of children playing was threatened is something no parent wants to hear.
"Certainly something that you want to be very aware of and make sure you're knowing what's going on in a community," said Keith Thompson, who played with his son in America the Beautiful Park on Sunday.
Police have been hunting for the men as best they can, especially after the most recent luring attempt that happened this week.
"This past Monday, about 4:30, in the area of Austin Bluffs and Rangewood two teenage girls were walking and they noticed they were being followed by a white van," described Sgt. Bob Konz of the Colorado Springs Police Department. "They stated that a male did exit and began chasing them, they were able to get away."
Sgt. Konz said the suspect descriptions have varied somewhat, but a common factor reported in all the incidents is the presence of a white van. He said the department has received a large number of calls regarding suspicious incidents involving white vans since the luring attempts started.
"We go and we try to saturate the area as fast as we can with officers, we contact the victims," he explained.
But so far there have been no arrests. If and/or when the suspects are caught child safety experts like Jan Isaacs Henry with Kidpower of Colorado say lessons need to be learned.
"Parents need to give kids permission to move away as quickly as they can," Isaacs Henry explained. "To use their voices, we all have voices with us so they can yell 'I need help,' as loudly as they can, get all the neighborhood to hear."
She said it's important to teach kids safety while not scaring them. They need to learn that most strangers are not bad and don't need to be feared, but caution should be used with people who are unfamiliar.
"They need to know how to keep a safe distance from somebody they don't know even if they're very nice," she said.
Three suspects have been described as being a part of the child luring attempts involving a white van. In several of the incidents to men between 30 and 40 appeared to be working together, one is Hispanic and the other white. In another case a 20 to 30-year-old man of mixed race was involved, he has a tattoo on his right arm and possibly another tattoo in the shape of a gun on his right leg.