Local News

Garner permit program tracks ice cream trucks

Posted January 4, 2013 9:55 p.m. EST
Updated January 5, 2013 7:33 a.m. EST

— Five months after the frightening kidnapping and assault of a Garner teenager by an ice cream vendor, the community has passed a law to keep better track of the trucks that sell their wares to young and old alike.

A 14-year-old girl told police that Omar Kareem Sellers offered to pay for her help in selling ice cream on Aug. 16. Her family reported her missing, and she was found about two hours later. Inside the truck, police found condoms, a sex toy, a marijuana cigarette, video cameras and computer equipment.

They charged him with first-degree kidnapping, statutory rape, statutory sex offense and indecent liberties with a minor, and he remains in jail on more than $750,000 bond.

Garner Chief of Police Brandon Zuidema wants to make sure nothing like that every happens again. A new town ordinance sets guidelines for ice cream trucks and requires each operator to have a permit. To qualify, they'd need to have a clean criminal record and pay an annual fee. 

"That way, we kind of have an idea of who is doing business in the town," Zuidema said.

"It gives us the authority to stop and talk to these folks to make sure they have followed the permit requirement. If they're doing what they're supposed to be doing, we have no further questions, and if they're not, we have a different discussion."

Zuidema says the bottom line is  keeping ice cream truck operators honest but, more importantly, protecting children.