What began as a credible report of a man trying to get a young child into his vehicle on January 27th has now resulted in 17 reported incidents as of March 3rd. They have involved children and adult victims and a variety of offender and vehicle descriptions and methods of operation. Nine of these incidents could be classified as attempts to get a juvenile into a car. The ages of the children in these incidents ranged from 8 to 16. There were three incidents in which the offender description and vehicle description were fairly consistent – all in the Milmont area. One of these involved a 22 year old female who was asked if she wanted a ride. The other two involved 13 year old females.
The Reading Police Department is actively investigating each and every incident. There is real concern for our community and our children, and both our patrol and investigative divisions are keenly aware of these reports.
To date, there have not been any injuries to any of the reported victims and no victim has been abducted. There has been a wide variety of situations reported; some of them were not attempts to lure a child but some other action that was thought to be suspicious during this time of high alert.
Included in this were incidents where the victim thought a man was addressing her as “honey” but it was found he was speaking to another person. There was a report of a man in front of a pizza restaurant inviting a group of high school girls into the restaurant for free pizza, another of a man waving at children who turned out to be a school staffer waving them into school, and a report from an adult young woman whom a man asked if he could “harass her a minute.” Other incidents reportedly occurred in a area where cameras would have captured at least part of the activity but those could not be substantiated after checking camera views.
The early reports in Reading occurred in the city’s Milmont section, but then subsequent reports were spread to other locations. A couple of the early reports in the city were somewhat consistent with other reports in the county, but most were different in every way. It is likely that many of the reports were the result of justifiable high alert and calling the police just in case it was related to other incidents.
It is highly unlikely that so many child luring attempts have been made by so many radically differently described suspects in so many differently described vehicles in this relatively short span of time. However, we are still working on those reports that are unresolved and pursuing any lead in furtherance of identifying any suspects or discounting the report as given.
We would ask that citizens continue to be vigilant and watch out for our children and continue to report suspicious activity as soon as possible so police have the best chance of resolving it.