By ERIN ROLL
Police and school district officials are alerting parents and students of a possible attempted luring on Alexander Avenue after a young girl reported being approached by a man asking her if she wanted a ride.
An 11-year-old girl was approached by an unidentified man in a vehicle at the corner of Alexander Avenue and Squire Hill Road at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 2. The man had offered the girl a ride in his vehicle due to the cold weather. The girl refused, and the man drove off in the direction of Grove Street, Police Lt. David O’Dowd said.
The vehicle is described as a light brown, possibly newer-model, SUV, O’Dowd said, and the man was described as a Hispanic male, between 30 and 40 years of age, with a beard.
The incident is under investigation at this time, O’Dowd said.
A composite sketch of the man believed to have been involved in the incident was released to the media and the public Friday, Jan. 4.
The girl is a student at Buzz Aldrin Middle School, Superintendent Kendra Johnson said. Police have increased patrols in the area.
“Due to the wise thinking from the student and her parents, a potential luring was avoided. A special thank you is extended to our outstanding Montclair Police Department for its commitment to our community’s safety and increasing morning patrols at Buzz Aldrin Middle School bus stops. We care about all of our students and will always keep their wellbeing front and center,” Johnson said in email to parents.
Last March, a 12-year-old girl walking on Midland Avenue reported that a man in a silver or gray Honda Accord drove up to her and said “come on, get in the car.”
In August, a 16-year-old girl reported she was walking on Hawthorne Avenue when a dark-colored sedan beeped at her. When the girl turned around, she saw the male driver masturbating.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there were 1,416 attempted abductions by a non-family member nationwide in 2016, the most recent year that data was available.
The most frequent lures in those incidents include offering the child a ride, or candy or money, asking for help finding a missing animal, or asking the child questions. School-aged children are likely to be at risk before and after school (7 to 9 a.m., and 3 to 4 p.m.), and after dinner (6 to 7 p.m.)
However, the majority of abductions in the United States are committed by someone who is known to the child, especially a family member.