Although Friday's attempted child luring of a middle school student in Ridgewood does not resemble that of numerous other luring attempts in the Bergen/Passaic area, village police say they're stepping up patrols and remaining vigilant.
A 13-year-old George Washington Middle School student told police she was walking home at around 3:30 p.m. on Lincoln Avenue when an older model, four-door black sedan occupied by three black males made comments about her appearance and asked her to get in the car. The girl rebuffed their offer. The driver then pulled a U-turn on Lincoln Avenue and again approached the victim. She ran home without incident. Police are continuing to investigate what happened on Friday.
"There were multiple parties involved in this incident, whereas in other reported attempted lurings there was a single individual," Ridgewood Police Chief John Ward said. "The information we've received does not match up, but we've been monitoring the situation since it was first reported in Maywood."
According to published news reports, attempted lurings have taken place in Hawthorne, Maywood, Oradell, Fair Lawn, Hackensack in the last two weeks. Washington Township police also reported two luring attempts in mid-September.
In most of those reported attempts, there was a single suspect, described as a middle-age or older white man. The description of the individual and the vehicle varies somewhat.
In Maywood, the suspect was described as 5'0" white, middle-aged man with salt-and-pepper hair and a "scruffy" beard. He approached a girl and said he had puppies she could see. He was reportedly wearing a button-down shirt and black pants, driving a small grey car.
The description of the suspect is similar to what was reported in Oradell on Tuesday and in Hackensack on Friday morning.
However, in Hackensack the suspect was driving a white Jeep Wrangler. In Fair Lawn, the suspect, described as being white and in his 50s with dark hair, was driving a dark-colored Jeep Wrangler.
In what could be the most unsettling report, a 13-year-old girl in Hawthorne told police a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt grabbed her by the arm and attempted to abduct her while at a crowded soccer game.
He was described as being 5'8" and 180 lbs. but no further description could be provided.
In Washington Township, police said a white male in his 50s made comments to a girl walking home from school. The incident followed a report of two suspects – one, a female, described as being in her 50s or 60s with dyed hair – picking up kids. No description of the male suspect in that incident could be ascertained.
Though the scare in Ridgewood does not appear to be connected, village police say they're not ignoring the dangers.
"We take this very seriously," Ward told Patch of luring reports. "We've stepped up unmarked and marked patrol units around the schools, particularly in the West Side."
The chief said if anyone sees what they believe is a child in distress, they should immediately contact authorities. If it can be done safely, Ward encouraged individuals to take their cell phones out and try to capture a license plate of suspicious vehicles.
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