Girls targeted while heading to school?
4 Jacksonville girls headed to school lured by man; Palatka girl grabbed
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In the 11 days since Duval County students returned to class, there have been at least four reports to Jacksonville police from girls heading to school reporting that a man tried to lure them into a car.
This comes at a time when parents are already on edge after the kidnapping and murder of Cherish Perrywinkle and last Friday's attack on a girl in the rest room of a Best Buy store.
The aunt of one of the girls who reported being approached gave details of her frightening experience.
"She was riding her bike to school and a gentleman approached her in a car and offered her candy and things to get into the car with him," Rita Mosquera said.
Mosquera said her 12-year-old niece was approached last Friday as she was on Carranza Drive on her way to school. According to reports, she told police the man who approached her was Hispanic, in his 30s and thin. He was driving a silver car.
"He was just trying to get her in the car anyway he could," Mosquera said.
Mosquera said her family had gone over safety procedures many times and her niece knew what to do.
"I think she looked over at him when he first approached her, then she kept going, riding her bike and ignored his attempts," Mosquera said. "He turned his car around to try some more. And we think that maybe there were some people around, so he drove away."
In the four incidents Channel 4 found in Jacksonville Sheriff's Office reports -- spread across various neighborhoods from the Southside to San Pablo -- each time a girl told police a man tried to entice her into his car on the way to school. Investigators say the descriptions are different and they don't see any connection.
Surveillance video from Advanced Technical Services shows the moments when a 16-year-old girl reported she was followed by a man in a red Grand Am near Beach Boulevard and San Pablo Road. She told police the man even got out of the car and came toward her, but she ran away.
Channel 4 crime expert Ken Jefferson says the threat is real, and parents need to prepare their kids for anything that might happen to them when they leave home.
"If there are a certain amount of kids coming from one neighborhood, then parents should get together and meet and talk," Jefferson said. "They should get to know each other, they should train their children together, so that everybody is on the same page. They know what to look for, what to do and what not to do."
The aunt of one of the potential victims agrees.
"It's definitely made us more vigilant of everything," Mosquera said. "Even for kids that aren't ours, just to keep an eye on everybody."
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