Parents on alert after reports of two attempted child abductions
WATERLOO (KWWL) -
Eastern Iowa parents are on alert following news of two reported attempted child abductions in two days. Police say the first incident happened Wednesday in Waterloo, when a black man between the ages of 50-60 stopped a girl walking home from school and asked her if she wanted a ride. The second incident happened Thursday afternoon in Cedar Falls. Police report a white man with red hair pulled up next to a boy, and asked him if he wanted a ride and chocolate.
In light of what happened nearly three months ago in Evansdale, area parents are taking these reports seriously and using the opportunity to talk to their children about strangers.
We met parent of four, Heidi Kirsch, at a Waterloo playground Friday afternoon. It's one area you'd think kids could just be kids. Kirsch knows it's also an important place for a lesson about the risk of being abducted.
"Every time I hear a story, I try to bring it to their attention. Discuss what could happen, things that they could be watching for," said Kirsch.
She asks her children to stay together, or at least in pairs, wherever they go. Especially after a recent scare.
"Last fall, my youngest son went missing and was gone for about four and a half hours. It was a scary time, and luckily it was one of those stories that turned out well," she recalled.
Unfortunately, not every story of a possible abduction ends well.
"What they have on their mind is usually not very good. So we urge kids to get away as soon as possible," said Waterloo Police Captain Tim Pillack.
Twice this week, a child has been approached by a stranger wanting to give the youngster a ride. Police say both children did the right thing -- ran away, and gave a good description to a trusted adult.
Pillack says, parents need to follow Kirsch's example and have that "stranger danger" conversation whenever possible.
"It's best if it comes from mom and dad. How to handle situations -- no matter where they're at. They could be at school, could be at the playground, they could just be hanging out with friends on the corner," he said.
Kirsch realizes "things can happen anywhere." Since she can't always stay nearby, she hopes her kids are paying attention while they're having fun.
Anyone with information about the abduction attempts in Waterloo or Cedar Falls is encouraged to call police. Again, in Waterloo they're looking for a black man, between 50-60 years of age, with a black beard and tattoos on his neck. He has an Iowa State University sticker on the back window of his dark blue SUV. In Cedar Falls, police are looking for a white man, between 20-30 years of age, with red hair. He was driving a large white van with black on the front.
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