The Champaign Police Department has received numerous e-mails and inquiries regarding suspicious vehicles approaching school-aged children after school in the area of southwest Champaign.
To date, the following incidents have been reported to the Champaign Police Department:
On Thursday, August 26, 2010 at approximately 2:15 p.m., two 5th grade students from Kenwood Elementary School were walking home in the area of Maplepark Drive and William Street. The two girls reported that a “shiny” silver 4-door vehicle occupied by three males (one adult and two teenagers) passed them. The vehicle stopped and backed up to where the two girls were walking. The driver of the vehicle engaged them in conversation through the open window and asked if they remembered him, and he then offered them a ride home. When the girls responded, “no,” the driver drove away.
- The driver was described as a dark-skinned African-American male, approximately 20 years of age, heavy build, and wearing a white t-shirt.
- The two passengers were described as African-American males wearing white t-shirts. The male passenger in the back seat had braids and a goatee.
Today, the Champaign Police Department took a report regarding a similar incident that occurred on Saturday afternoon, August 28, 2010. In this incident, a 7 year old girl was riding her bike in the 1700 block of Brighton Court when an older Caucasian male, driving a dark blue truck, pulled up next to her and asked if she wanted a ride. The driver made no physical advances toward the girl and drove away when she refused the ride.
The Champaign Police Department is encouraging parents to talk to and remind their children about how to respond when approached by strangers.
If approached by a stranger:
- Check with an adult prior to going anywhere with anyone, especially someone you do not know. Do not walk with or accept a ride with a stranger, no matter what they offer you.
- Trust your instincts. It is okay to say no, even to an adult. If a stranger approaches, you do not have to talk to them. If something feels wrong or unsafe, it probably is.
- Run. If a stranger tries to get you into a car, run, kick, yell or scream to get the attention of others. Most adults will stop for a child in trouble.
- Remember information about the vehicle (license plate number, color, bumper stickers, etc.) and report this information right away!
- Tell a trusted adult!
Tips for Parents:
1. Avoid displaying the child’s name on clothes or other personal items.
2. Create a unique family “code word” that only you and your child know.
3. Show children how to use a payphone and remind them that 911 calls are free.
4. Teach children to avoid walking outdoors with headphones, which can prevent them from hearing someone coming up from behind.
5. Remind children not to assist strangers with providing directions, finding lost pets, or other requests.
The Champaign Police Department is seeking assistance with the investigation of these two incidents. If you have any information regarding these reports, or if you know of similar incidents that have not been reported, please contact the Champaign Police Department at (217) 351-4545.
Citizen can also contact Crime Stoppers:
- Call Crime Stoppers at (217) 373-TIPS or
- Submit tips online at www.373tips.com or
- text the following: Tip397 plus the information to CRIMES (274637).
Crime Stoppers will pay a reward up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for this crime.