FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A 10-year-old girl has been left shaken after she encountered a stranger who tried to grab her at a South Florida neighborhood. The search for that stranger is now underway.
The Fort Lauderdale Police Department started distributing flyers in the area of 1500 Northeast 17th Way, Friday afternoon.
Surveillance video showed the suspect who attempted to grab the girl.
According police, the attempted kidnapping happened Wednesday morning as the girl was walking to school, near Northeast 15th Street and 17th Way, when a man in a black cargo van approached her.
The man, who was caught on camera near the scene, attempted to lure the child into his vehicle, but when she didn’t, he got out of his van and tried to pull the girl in.
A struggle ensued, and the girl got away.
During the struggle, the girl’s lanyard fell off and the stranger took it.
“At some point, the suspect exits his vehicle and attempts to grab this 10-year-old child,” said Fort Lauderdale Police detective Ali Adamson.
The 10-year-old did not report that incident until Thursday morning, when the same thing happened again.
“The same male approaches her, this time on foot. He begins to engage in a conversation with her,” said Adamson.
A witness saw what was occurring and intervened.
“A witness in the area approaches them, and asks the 10-year-old if she knows this man,” said Adamson. “She says no. At the same time she’s saying no. The suspect says, yes, they do know each other and that he is her grandfather. The witness, realizing that something’s not right, instructs the 10-year-old to run. She runs to Bendle Elementary where she reports it to the staff.”
“They are kids, they are babies,” said Anika Prescia, “and it breaks my heart to hear that other people want to do that to kids.”
School staff then called police.
“The safety of our community, specifically our children, is of paramount importance to us, and we are investigating this to the fullest extent,” said Adamson.
Sunrise Middle School had sent a message to parents, saying, “This serves a perfect alignment to talk to your child about stranger danger and staying safe while walking to or from school.”
Parents said it is a message kids can’t hear enough.
“If you don’t hear from me, you’re not going with no one,” said Prescia. “You have to hear from me first. That is what I tell my kids every day.”
The 10-year-old is OK, and her family was notified.
The man has been described as a 25- to 40-year-old white man with short brown hair.
If you have any information on these incidents or about the stranger, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward of up to $5,000.
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