Fifth attempted abduction in Chandler has parents on edge

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Police in Chandler are once again urging parents to talk to their children about "Stranger Danger" after yet another attempted abduction, the fifth such incident since school started.

This latest incident happened Monday afternoon as an 8-year-old boy was walking home from school, but police said the suspect bears no resemblance to the suspect or suspects in the previous cases.

According to investigators, the little boy, who normally walks with his big brother, was by himself when a man in a black van pulled up and asked him to get in. The boy, a student at Tarwater Elementary School, refused and ignored the man. As soon as the child's brother arrived, the man drove away.

Neither one of the boys was hurt.

Tarwater Elementary School is located southwest of Germann and Alma School roads. Three of the previous incidents were in the vicinity of Hartford Sylvia Encinas Elementary School, which is southeast of Ray and Alma School roads, about 10 minutes from Tarwater. The fourth was in the area of Dobson and Galveston streets, less than 2.5 miles west of Hartford Elementary.

The suspect in this case is described as a 30-year-old white man with a buzz cut and a goatee. In each of the previous four attempted abductions, the suspect was described as a Hispanic man. Police have released two separate composite sketches in connection with those earlier incidents.

Counting Monday's incident, six children ranging in age from 8 to 14 have been approached by at least three different men. In the previous cases, the suspect actually chased the kids.That was not the case Monday, police said.

Police said the kids involved in these attempted abductions, the first of which happened on Aug. 30, have done the right thing, refusing to get into vehicles when asked, yelling to attract attention and running to safety.

"We encourage parents to talk to their children about preventative measures to ensure their safety from child predators," said Detective Seth Tyler in a news release after the fourth attempted abduction late last month.

In addition, police say parents should not let their children walk to and from school by themselves.

According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, most attempted abductions occur when a child it walking to or from school or a school-related activity. Kids between 10 and 14 years old are targeted most often and for the most part, the suspect is in a vehicle.

In three of the five Chandler incidents this school year, the child who was approached was walking alone. In the remaining case, a 14-year-old boy was walking with his 11-year-old sister.

Similar but unrelated attempted abductions have also been reported in Gilbert and Phoenix.

"When I grew up, I don't remember being scared like this, but a lot of kids are scared," said Beth Cronin, a concerned Tarwater parent. "I wish they didn't have to be."

Anyone with any information regarding the Chandler attempted abduction incidents is asked to contact the Chandler Police Department at 480-782-4130.