RANDOLPH — Chief William Pace reports that the Randolph Police Department is investigating after a suspicious man in a van allegedly approached school children and offered them candy. The department is asking the parents of any child who saw the suspicious van to come forward.
On Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019 at approximately 3:30 p.m., Randolph Police officers received a report of a suspicious brown van that had stopped on South Man Street near Sam’s Gas & Auto Repair. The driver stopped in traffic and allegedly held out his arm with two lollipops in his hand, offering them to a group of children nearby.
The citizen who reported the incident yelled to the children not to take the candy, and the driver left the area. The children also left the area.
The reporting party provided a complete license plate number to police and officers were able to identify, locate and question the driver, however the investigation remains on going.
Chief Pace is asking the parents of any school-age children who may have been approached by this suspicious driver to please come forward and contact the Randolph Police Department. The reporting party indicated that the child she saw approached by the van driver was between 7-9 years old.
“We are actively investigating this incident to determined exactly what transpired,” Chief Pace said. “We are asking parents to please have a discussion with your children, and please come forward if your child saw or heard anything or was approached by this suspicious driver.”
The National Crime Prevention Council recommends several tips on talking to children about strangers:
- Explain to your child that a stranger is anyone who your family doesn’t know well. It is common for children to think that “bad strangers” look scary, which is not only untrue, but dangerous for children to think this way. Tell your child that no one can tell if strangers are nice or not nice just by looking at them, and they should be careful around all people they don’t know.
- Don’t make it seem like all strangers are bad. Teach your child about safe strangers and adults they can trust — police officers, firefighters, teachers, principals and librarians. Also show your child places they can go if they need help, such as local stores, restaurants and the homes of family friends in your neighborhood.
- Teach your child to be wary of potentially dangerous situations and the warning signs of suspicious behavior, like when an adult asks them to disobey their parents or do something without their permission, asks them to keep a secret, asks children for help, or makes them feel uncomfortable in any way.
- Talk to your children about how they should handle potentially dangerous situations. You can use the “No, Go, Yell, Tell,” saying, which teaches children to say no, run away, yell as loud as they can, and tell a trusted adult what happened right away if they feel threatened by a stranger.
In addition to teaching children how to recognize and handle dangerous situations and strangers, there are other things that parents can do to help their children stay safe:
- Know where your children are at all times. Make it a rule that children must ask permission or check in with you before going anywhere. Give your children both your work and cell phone numbers so they can reach you at all times.
- Point out safe places. Show your children safe places to play, safe roads and paths to take and safe places to go if there’s trouble.
- Teach children to trust their instincts. Explain that if they ever feel scared or uncomfortable, they should get away as fast as they can and tell an adult. Tell them that sometimes adults they know may make them feel uncomfortable, and they should still get away and tell another adult what happened. Reassure your child that you will always help them when they need it.
- Teach your children to be assertive. Make sure they know that it’s okay to say no to an adult and to run away from adults in dangerous situations.
- Encourage your children to play with others. There is safety in numbers.
For more resources and information about talking to your children about strangers, visit the National Crime Prevention Council website.