Gilbert parents start patrols following 'Stranger Danger' casesPosted: Updated:
GILBERT, Ariz. -- Two girls playing at a Mesa Park, a teen waiting for her mom in the lot at Mesa High School - both places where the kids told their parents someone tried to grab them in just the last week. At least eight cases across the Valley have lead many parents to talk to their kids about strangers.
"I don't want them scared, but I want them aware," said Angela Dewolf of Gilbert, who says she's talked to her kids about what to do regularly.
But now she and other parents are putting in their own work to protect city streets. They were called together by the child advocacy group, The Starbright Foundation. Even though they're based in Gilbert, the parents helping out are as spread out across the Valley as the cases themselves. Parents have offered their time, and eyes, to help stop the potential crime.
'I'm just a little bit more aware if I see something that fits that description or if I see a vehicle approach a child I just take a few extra minutes to make sure everything looks okay," said Dewolf.
Lori Regnier founded the Foundation, and outfits interested parents with descriptions. She says parents are just doing small actions, taking only a bit of time, to try and make a difference.
"They're just deciding to maybe have lunch in the park instead of their office. While they're at the park, they're taking their list of vehicle descriptions that police have put out there."
In Gilbert, police say it can only help.
"The more eyes and ears, the more awareness; one, for preventative measures and two, for leads. We definitely welcome it," said Bill Balafas with Gilbert PD.
Dewolf says at the very least, it makes her feel like she's doing something to fight back.
"If I wasn't able to do this I would hope that somebody would keep an eye on my children," she said.