Police arrest driver accused of luring girl into SUV in Margate

MARGATE, Fla. (WSVN) — Police have arrested a man who, they said, lured a 10-year-old girl into his SUV while she was walking to school in Margate, last week.

According to Margate Police, 58-year-old Jose Laurence picked up the girl in his gray Jeep Grand Cherokee and gave her a ride, Thursday morning. He was arrested on Monday and charged with luring/enticing a child under 12 and battery. His bond has been set at $150,000.

Laurence was caught when the victim was walking with her mother in the neighborhood and she saw the SUV belonging to the suspect. The mother wrote down the tag number of the car and called Margate Police. According to a judge, Laurence does not live in the neighborhood or in the nearby area.”The victim saw Mr. Laurence again

Investigators said the girl was walking along the 6600 block of Southgate Boulevard when she was approached by the suspect’s vehicle, at around 7 a.m. Investigators said Laurence offered the student a ride and she got into the vehicle because she mistook him for a relative. Once the car was moving, however, she realized the driver was a complete stranger.

Shortly after, police said, Laurence suggested going back to his place, but the girl refused. Investigators said he dropped her off near Atlantic West Elementary School, and before she exited the car, hugged the girl and kissed her on her cheek.

“The court’s very concerned that this defendant preyed upon a child — lured the child into the vehicle. This court is very concerned about not only the safety of this young girl, but the safety of the young girls in the community,” said Broward County Circuit Court Judge John Hurley.

The incident has also left the parents of other children startled. “That’s really terrifying,” a parent Cristina Apollo. “I walk them, I don’t let them out of my sight. That’s terrifying knowing this is my kids’ school.”

“That’s really a pervert to me because you’re around an elementary school, that’s crazy to me,” said concerned parent Ashley Collie.

Other students are using this incident as a lesson to help keep them safe. “If you ever see a stranger, it can mean danger and you should always go away from a person you do not know because you do not know what they’re gonna do,” said student Daniel McClarty.

Broward Schools officials released a statement after the incident that read in part, “Student safety is always the district’s highest priority. Atlantic West Elementary School’s leadership continues to work with the Margate Police Department regarding its ongoing investigation into this incident.”

Laurence was transported to the Broward County Jail for processing. The girl was never hurt.