Lane County Sheriff’s Office had a call at Emerald Park (on Lake Drive) today at about 1:30 p.m. of a suspicious male. The male reportedly was in a tree then jumped out at a 12-year-old boy and his 2nd grade cousin as they passed by. The male had a vehicle near the tree and pointed to it asking them if they wanted a ride. The 12-year-old said no, they both left the area and called one of the boy’s mothers immediately. She notified LCSO and the River Road Parks.
At about 1:50 p.m. a subject matching the same clothing description was reportedly hanging around the St. Vincent De Paul on Division Avenue. Eugene Police patrol checked the area without locating him. So far, there has been only one report of the male contacting kids, which was at Emerald Park. Lane County Sheriff’s Office did respond to check the area and did not locate the male either.
He is described as follows:
White male 30-40 years old, shorter than average stature, and with a medium build. He has short, possibly buzz-cut, light-brown hair, and was last seen wearing black sunglasses that had the words “Oregon Ducks” along the ear piece, an “Oregon Duck” sweatshirt of unknown color, and dark, baggy jeans. The vehicle was described as a grey compact pick-up truck, possibly a Toyota. It had the appearance of being a work truck and was well used.
Additional Information for Child Safety
While abductions by strangers are extremely rare (most offenses against children, including abduction and sexual offenses, are committed by people that they know), Eugene Police want to remind all families that because such crimes do rarely occur, it is important to teach children about personal safety. Crime prevention specialists offer the following tips:
1. Explain the danger. Parents often tell children, "Don't go with strangers." This is vague and doesn’t help children protect themselves—most abductions are by relatives anyway! Better advice would be, “If you are lost or need help, sometimes it’s okay to ask strangers for assistance—but strangers shouldn’t be asking you for help or to go with them. You should not go somewhere with strangers unless you need their help in an emergency."
2. Who is a stranger? A stranger is anyone you don’t know. Make an agreement regarding who is safe to go with, and that they must say “NO!” to anyone else, no matter what! Teach your child to stay at least arms’ length away from a stranger who approaches them.
3. Don't be polite! Parents teach children to be "polite"; they should also teach that it's OK to be assertive and not talk to strangers. Adults should ask adults for help, not children!
4. Home and phone safety. Teach your child not to open the door to strangers except in a real emergency. Explain what an emergency might be, such as a medical problem or a fire. Tell them not to answer probing questions from strangers. Tell them to come get you, or to call you instead. Make sure they know how to reach you wherever you might be. Teach them how and when to call 9-1-1.
5. Make a code word. Teach the child a code word. If a visitor comes to get them, the visitor must know the code word, or the child should not go with them.
6. Pick their routes. Avoid alleys, wooded areas, parking lots and spontaneous shortcuts. Choose areas where anything out of the ordinary would be noticed by neighbors, business owners, pedestrians, etc. Most importantly, help them avoid isolation. Arrange for them to walk with trusted friends. Consider providing them with a cell phone so that they can call for help.
7. Identify trusted adults. Pick stores, schools, churches, and homes of safe neighbors. Make sure your child knows these "safe places" that they should go if they need help. Remember, it’s generally safer if the child picks the adult!
8. NO–GO–TELL. If approached by somebody who is scary, or who asks them to do something that seems wrong, a child should yell “NO!” then GO immediately to a trusted adult and TELL what happened.
9. Teach what to do in an actual kidnap attempt. If a child is screaming, a passerby may think it's a child having a tantrum, and fail to recognize an actual abduction. Children who are victims of attempted abduction should repeatedly yell "HELP! I DON’T KNOW THIS PERSON! I’M BEING KIDNAPPED!" Children have been saved by doing this! Be sure your child knows that resistance—yelling, kicking, scratching, biting—is acceptable under these circumstances. Depending on the age of your child, encourage them to remember details: vehicle description or model, appearance of the person involved, what was said, etc. Call the police immediately.
10. Practice with role plays. Have a friend participate, and have your child GO and TELL. Reward and coach your child.
Additionally, parents interested in learning about convicted sex offenders in our community who may be a danger to children can call the Oregon State Police Sex Offender Unit at (503) 378-3725 x4429 to request a list of all registered sex offenders living in their zip code, or go to http://sexoffenders.oregon.gov/ for information about area residents designated as “predatory” sex offenders.