A near-tragedy occurred last month when a man attempted to kidnap a toddler from her mother’s arms outside a local shopping center. According to the girl’s mother, she and her 2-year-old daughter were walking along a storefront when a man attempted to grab the little girl. The quick-thinking mother noticed the man reaching for her daughter and was able to grab her before the suspect could, after which he ran off.
The mother of the little girl immediately called police, who were able to arrest the man about a mile from where the incident occurred as he was getting into his motor home. The suspect was in his 60s and is currently being held at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station in lieu of $100,000 bail.
Having a child kidnapped is a terrifying prospect for any parent, and it’s a frighteningly common crime nationally. Even in the SCV, reports of kidnappings and alleged kidnappings aren’t outside the norm. And in August a 12-year-old boy was able to escape from an attempted kidnapping in the stairwell of a Canyon Country apartment building. Last year in June, another Canyon Country resident – a 15-year-old girl – was nearly kidnapped when a man tried to snatch her from a parking lot at around 10:00 in the morning.
Teenage girls and young children are targeted by would-be kidnappers the most. Kidnappers, like most criminals, don’t want attention, and the best thing you can do is to teach your child how to react in a situation like this starting from an early age. Most children are taught not to talk to strangers, but as they grow older they tend to distrust unknown people less than they did when they were younger. Still, it’s important to remember that they should never get into a stranger’s vehicle, even if they seem helpful and offer to take them home or to work. If your children ever find themselves being grabbed or forced into someone else’s vehicle, make sure they know to yell and scream. Creating a scene will get others to notice and may scare off the kidnapper.
Be sure that all young children know their full name, age, and phone number as soon as they’re able to, and know to contact a police officer or other safe adult if they ever find themselves separated from their parents or guardians.