Craig police step up school patrols amid reports of child enticement | CraigDailyPress.com

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Craig police step up school patrols amid reports of child enticement

School Resource Officer Tony Gianinetti watches over the Ridgeview Elementary School neighborhood as students get out of school Thursday afternoon. The Craig Police Department added extra patrols around area schools after two reported incidents of child enticement this week.

Story at a glance

■ Two reported incidents of child enticement recently have occurred in Craig.

■ First alleged incident involved two men, one blond and one with a shaved head, in a black SUV.

■ Second incident involved a man in his 20s with shoulder-length black hair in a gray passenger car with body damage.

■ Craig police are investigating.

Recent reports of child enticement have prompted the Craig Police Department to step up patrol efforts around schools, police reported Thursday in a news release.

The police department reported that there have been two incidents recently of strangers reportedly approaching children walking to or from school.

On Wednesday morning, a 10-year-old boy was on his way to a school bus stop when a man in his 20s approached him in a gray passenger car with body damage, police reported.

The man reportedly had black shoulder-length hair and facial hair.

The man reportedly asked the boy to get into his car, and the boy refused. The man then pulled out a handgun, but drove away when he saw people in the area.

Another incident occurred last week near Ridgeview Elementary School.

A fourth-grader was walking home when he was approached by two males in their 30s in a black SUV, police reported.

One had a shaved head and wore sunglasses, and the other had blond hair, according to the news release.

The men reportedly told the student that his father was in a car accident. The student ignored the men and ran home to find his father.

Police officials said they have no evidence the two reported incidents are connected.

School resource officer Mike Edwards said he sporadically hears reports of strangers approaching children and that police take the allegations seriously.

"We like to err on the side of caution," Edwards said, "so we can do what we can to keep the kids safe."

He said police will add extra patrols to the areas around schools at the time students are let out.

In the release, the Police Department encouraged parents to discuss with children how to react if approached by strangers.

Police Sgt. John Forgay said the department advises parents and children to remain cognizant of their surroundings.

"They need to be observant of what's going on around them, and if they see someone hanging around, report it immediately, and we'll check it out," Forgay said. "It'd be nice, if they have a cell phone, to report it right then and there."

He said families can take several measures to improve safety when students are walking to and from school.

He advised parents to talk to their children about not speaking to strangers and running to a safe place if someone they don't know approaches them.

"One thing we always stress is kids should always walk in groups of at least two to wherever they may be going," he said. "And they should avoid places that are unfamiliar."

Anyone with information about the reported incidents is to call the police department at 824-8111.