It's early on a summer afternoon in Fulton. An old, faded, red sedan pulled up next to an 11-year old girl on the 2300 block of 49th Street. The driver, a white man between 25 and 30 years old, asked the girl if she wanted to go for a ride.
It sounds straight out of the scare stories we were all told as children and the nightmares we have about our own children, but that's what the Minneapolis Police Department says happened in Fulton yesterday around 1:45 p.m. Like a smart child, though, the girl said "no," and walked away to report the incitend. Police say the driver had "scarring or pockmarks on his face, with a brown crew cut, medium build, and a brown t-shirt.
In a statement emailed to area residents, police offered the following tips for trying to keep children safe from predators.
1. Teach your child(ren) your address and phone number, including the area code. Instruct your child(ren) on how to use the telephone to call home, and in an emergency, 911.
2. Keep an updated file on your child, including a photograph and physical description. If your child is under two years of age, you should update the information at least four times each year.
3. Pay close attention to the clothing your child is wearing each day and never display your child's name on his/or clothes or books. Children will often respond to strangers who call them by name.
4. Make sure your child knows what to do should you become separated in a public place. Your child should immediately make a report to a facility employee and should not attempt to search for you.
5. Select a secret code word that only you and your child know. Tell your child never to go with anyone who does not know this code.
6. Keep a set of your child's footprints, fingerprints and dental records.
7. Leave instructions with your child's school to notify you immediately if he/she is absent and provide them with written information on which people are authorized to pick your child up after school.
8. Educate your children on the many tactics used by abductors to lure them away. Teach them to immediately leave the area if a stranger is present. If your child is grabbed, instruct your child to yell "fire" (or "stranger") People are more likely to respond to those shouts than to cries of "help."
9. Survey the recreation and school routes your child uses. Point out any dangerous areas such as vacant lots, alleyways, busy streets, etc. Teach your child what to do should he/she be followed.
10. Join or organize a "safe home" program with your neighbors to establish secure homes where your children can go for help.