Highwood investigation continues in possible child abduction attempts
BY KAREN BERKOWITZ | firstname.lastname@example.org May 1, 2013 5:10PM
Updated: May 2, 2013 9:58AM
Highwood police are continuing to investigate two possible abduction attempts last week involving students outside Oak Terrace School.
Highwood Police Chief David Wentz added Wednesday that a third report made by a resident on April 30 is likely a case of mistaken circumstances, not a related abduction attempt. The incident did not occur at a school, he said.
In a statement released Wednesday, Wentz said the incident is an unrelated event “that very well may not be an attempted abduction but rather a case of mistaken identity.”
Reports about the possible third incident had circulated in Lake Forest, Wentz said.
Highwood investigators believe two incidents involving a seven-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy at Oak Terrace School on April 22 and April 24 are related. In both instances, a man allegedly approached the youngsters and offered them a ride home.
In the first incident, the girl was approached at about 4:30 p.m. April 22 by a man who claimed to know her father. The man stood across the street from the school, at 240 Prairie Avenue, and said, “I know your dad. I can give you a ride home.”
The female victim, who was not harmed, turned and ran back into the school. She did not observe any vehicles in the area other than normal traffic. The incident was reported to police three days later.
Later in the week, April 24, an eight-year-old boy was approached by a man at about 3:25 p.m. across the street from the school. Police said the man, who was on foot, asked the boy, “Do you want a ride home?”
The man came within two feet of the boy, who became frightened, turned away and ran west on Prairie Avenue. The boy arrived safety at his home a short distance away.
In both instances, the suspect was described as a white male with black hair, a short goatee and a star tattoo on his left forearm.
Highland Park police were made aware of the solicitations and increased patrols around schools in North Shore School District 112. Both victims are in third grade.
Authorities are urging parents to review basic safety precautions with their children and make sure their child is accompanied by at least one friend when walking to and front school.