Child enticement reports rise, OPD responds

Posted at 4:19 PM, Aug 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-31 18:52:03-04

A number of reported child enticement incidents has raised parents' concerns. 

Since August 12th, school districts have reported at least 9 different possible child enticement incidents.  Letters were sent out in the Millard, Elkhorn, and Omaha School Districts.

  • Friday (8/12/16) some Bryan Elementary students were approached by a black truck as they walked near Walnut Grove Park (144 & Q). The students reported this to their parents, and police were contacted.
  • On Monday (8/15/16), a Millard South student made a similar report.
  • Early morning (8/16/16) an employee of Faith Westwood Methodist (126th & L St.) saw a man in a black truck idling in their parking lot.   He pulled out rapidly when she stepped out of her vehicle.
  • Incident that OPD is investigating near 202 & F St of another stranger danger incident involving children walking to Reagan Elementary. (unknown date)
  • Another attempted abduction is reported outside South High School at 24th & J St. on August 19.
  • Hillrise Elementary student at 202 & Maple in Elkhorn reported seeing a man inappropriately touching another student Tuesday (8/23/16) afternoon.
  • A Manchester student was walking home near 173 & Dora Hamann Pkwy. when she reportedly was approached by a stranger who offered her a ride on August 25.
  • A Benson High School student was approached by a person in a white van while walking home on August 25.
  • A Morton Middle School student reported being approached on August 29.

Some are described as students being approached by a man with a truck.

Omaha Police say many of the recent allegations are not substantiated, can be explained, or are not reported to authorities so they shouldn't be of concern.  They are investigating them thoroughly.

Project Harmony says about 32% of all child enticement incidents happen near a school.  They want parents, kids, and neighbors to be aware when a situation may come up.

"Often times children they know to stay away from strangers but they haven't necessarily been taught the way to respond or recognize the tactics by abductors,” said Angela Roeber, Director of Communications with Project Harmony.  "So an offer like candy, a cute animal, toys, money, those are things that abductors will use to lure children into going with them.”

OPD says if you believe an attempted abduction has taken place call 911 immediately so they can follow-up even if you tell a school.  Some cases on social media haven't been reported to police.

For more information on how to talk to your children about "stranger danger" visit Project Harmony's "Walking Safety" page.

The Omaha Public School District sent these tips for students:

  • Walk with a buddy.
  •  Always refuse to go anywhere with people you don’t know.
  • Students are not expected to help adults with directions or lost puppies or other items.
  • If a driver stops, and the driver attempts to ask for help, children should run away.
  • In potentially dangerous situations, students should make lots of noise to alert neighbors, run to a safe place or find an adult they can trust.