Wake Forest police address concerns about 'stranger danger' cases
Posted January 27, 2015
Wake Forest, N.C. — Police in Wake Forest called a news conference Tuesday to reassure residents they are doing all that they can when it comes to investigating recent reports of strangers approaching young children in their neighborhoods.
"Wake Forest has always been considered a safe place to live and have a family," Police Chief Jeff Leonard said. "Nothing is more important to us than the safety and security of our residents, especially our children."
Since last month, investigators have received three formal reports of two men approaching young children and trying to persuade them to leave with them.
The first happened Dec. 26 when two men in a gray or silver four-door SUV approached a child on Samuel Wait Lane in the Heritage Manor neighborhood. On Dec. 27, someone approached a 4- and 6-year-old on Lariat Ridge Drive in the Carriage Run neighborhood.
The latest report police received was around 10:45 a.m. Jan. 25. In that case, investigators say two men tried to coax a 9-year-old girl walking her dog near her house into a gray or silver work van in the Northampton subdivision near Ridgemount Street.
Police Lt. Brian Mote said there have been no reports of anyone being harmed and that in each case, the children ran from the men and reported the encounters to their parents.
Investigators are also looking into two other reports.
The first surfaced Jan. 6 on social media, in which someone reported a similar encounter involving a 12-year-old boy at The Factory sports complex.
Police received a fifth report Monday night, but Mote said Tuesday that it does not appear to be connected to the others.
In that one, a 13-year-old girl reported swallowing some pills after being approached by a masked man while she rode her bicycle near the intersection of Jones Dairy Road and Green Mountain Drive.
The girl is fine, Mote said, and she was released from a local hospital Tuesday morning.
Leonard said the police department has received other reports on social media that investigators have looked into, noting that they have had to use resources to track down "inaccurate information and hearsay."
"If you see something that looks suspicious in your neighborhood, call the police department first rather than posting it on Facebook," Leonard said.
Anyone with information is urged to call the police department at 919-554-6150. Callers can remain anonymous.