News

Suspect sought in child lurings

By PHILIP PALERMO

The Mirror

Federal Way Police are trying to track down a man suspected of exposing himself and trying to lure teenage girls into his pickup truck.

In the span of four days, police said a man driving a bright green or blue pickup has been involved in at least four separate incidents.

The first incident occurred about 7 p.m. June 12 in the 31500 block of 21st Avenue Southwest, when the man approached a teenage girl on her way to school, according to a news release from the police department.

The news release stated the man asked for directions, then asked the girl to get into his truck to help. The girl refused, at which point the man asked her to point out a location on a map. When she neared the vehicle, she saw the man was exposing himself, the release stated.

At about 7:10 a.m. June 14, a similar incident occurred in the same block of 21st Avenue Southwest, police said.

Twelve hours later, another incident with a similar vehicle description took place near South 312th Street and First Avenue South.

A fourth incident occurred in the 2500 block of Southwest 320th Street, involving the same victim from the second incident.

As of June 19, the department hasn’t received any tips regarding the incidents, said Stacy Flores, public information officer.

“At this point, no suspects,” she said.

Flores said while child luring incidents are not uncommon in any jurisdiction, the rapid frequency of incidents in this case make it unusual.

At the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, National Safety Director Nancy McBride said the frequency of incidents in such a short time tells her something about the suspect.

“It strikes me as very determined, and that’s what makes these people so dangerous,” she said.

McBride said adults asking children for directions is a common tactic. Other methods include asking children to help locate a lost pet, or impersonating an authority figure.

“That’s a classic type of a trick — adults asking children for help,” she said.

It would be highly unlikely for adults actually needing directions to ask children for help, she explained.

“If they really want to get somewhere, they’re going to ask another adult,” McBride said. “This is somebody you don’t know, trying to get close and trying to get you to respond to them.”

Though it may run counter to the “respect-your-elders” mentality, McBride said the first thing children should do in similar incidents is get away as soon as possible and tell an adult they trust.

“You do not have to be polite. Your safety is much more important than being polite,” she said. “This is a great opportunity for parents to sit down with kids and talk about these rules.”

With so much media attention focusing on child luring on the Internet, McBride warned that predators still roam the real world as well as the virtual one.

The news release reported that police are looking for a suspect with the following description:

• A white male in his 20s;

• Short blond hair and bright blue eyes, wearing a wedding ring; and

• Driving an older Toyota or Nissan bright green or blue extended cab pickup truck.

Police are asking anyone with information to call 911.

McBride echoed the police department’s request for any tips from the public.

“I hope they’ll keep their eyes out,” she said.

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