Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2017 11:21:54 -0700
Here is an update from the mom of the child who had the interaction with
the white van:
My family owes each and every one of you, and this entire community, a huge apology tonight. There is no creepy man in a white van prowling the streets of our safe community.
My daughter was on her way to swim practice yesterday when a
white van pulled up next to her in the bike lane as she was about to cross
_____ Street from the sidewalk. The man in the white van was actually doing
my daughter (and my family) a huge favor — he was concerned that she might
not be paying close enough attention at the cross-walk, so he stopped his
van to make sure she made it safely across.
My daughter completely misinterpreted the situation. Having recently learned about stranger danger in school, she believed she was being followed and this van was unsafe. She raced off after it pulled up next to her.
Scared out of her wits, but unsure of herself, she exaggerated the details of the event and the story took on a life of its own. I believe that she dug a huge hole for herself that she did not feel comfortable climbing out of until she was told by two detectives of the Police Department tonight that she would not be in trouble if she admitted that she might have exaggerated her story.
Suffice it to say that she is very much aware of the fear that she caused
our community today, and to say that she feels terrible would be the
understatement of the century.
My daughter is preparing apology letters to all of you, to our community
and to the Police Department. She will also be offering to do some
community service for the Police Department in an effort to make-up for the
tremendous expenditure of resources that occurred on her behalf. Apparently
nearly every white van in our town was pulled over today. I have included the officer and detectives who were involved on this email so they know how truly sorry we are, but more importantly, so we can all THANK them. They
were prepared to move heaven and earth to find this mystery man. We can all
rest assured that we live in one of the safest communities in the country
because of the extraordinary work of our local law enforcement.
I am so very sorry for the fear that you all experienced today, and the
difficult conversations that you likely had with your children. I hope you
can find it in your hearts to forgive my daughter and my family for this
misunderstanding. And again, I can’t stress enough how blessed we are to
have our local law enforcement. THANK YOU for everything that you did for
my daughter today.
On Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 6:00 PM, another local wrote:
Thanks. A friend of mine also found this information
on the Nextdoor neighborhood social site, which was posted by the mother:
On Wednesday afternoon, my daughter was riding her bike from our house in
the ___ neighborhood to the pool in the ___ neighborhood for
her swim practice. At approx. 5:10, she was riding on the sidewalk along
____, preparing to cross over ____. A white van slowed down and pulled into the bike lane behind her. It then pulled up next to her, rolled down the passenger window and the older male driver called her by name, then told her that I had been in a terrible car accident and she needed to get into his van to go to the
hospital. She refused, and then the man started to get out of the van.
Thankfully, she was on her bike and was able to ride fast and get away. My
daughter said that there was only one person in the van — a 50-60 year old
white man, bald, smoking, no shirt on, with a large red tattoo across his
chest that said “Mamas Boy.” She described the van as very dirty, with
cloth and orange duct tape over each license plate and a crack in the right
The scene sounds like a set up from an after-school movie, to be sure. We
(and the police) scrutinized the story, because we understood the alarm
that it might cause. I wanted to be sure that at least the basic facts
lined up. It appears (at least for now) that the basics are there. A
security camera at the corner of ____ and ____ captured video
of a white van circling near ____ during the same exact timeframe
that my daughter was there. We understand that the police are taking this
seriously and will likely investigate further.
PLEASE keep your eyes out for this vehicle and anyone matching this
description in our neighborhood. If you see anything suspicious, please
call the police. I have reported this information to the police.
On Jun 22, 2017, at 5:49 PM, a woman wrote:
We received the following safety alert regarding the ____
neighborhood nearby. I want to share it with our neighborhood so parents
can talk to their kids and so we can all keep an eye out.
*”Good Afternoon ____ Families,*
*Yesterday afternoon one of our swimmers in the neighborhood
of ____ elementary school was approached by a van on her way to
swim practice. Thankfully she responded appropriately, alerted her parents
and the Police Department was notified. The police department’s presence in the
area of ____ can be seen and they are actively investigating this
*While we live in one of the safest cities in the nation, we still need to
be vigilant and informed. Please discuss safety with your children, have a
plan (such as a buddy system) in place if your swimmers walk/bike to the
pool on their own and discuss “stranger danger.” *
*The police have notified ____ families through their notification
system as well.*
*Be safe and keep an eye on each other.*
*____ Director of the Swim League”*
Lenore here: If you happen to live in the community where this happened, I would ask you not to announce its name or the name of the family involved because I didn’t run the story here to hurt or shame anyone. I ran it to remind us that, in the name of keeping our kids safe our society often pumps them full of fear. This isn’t helping anyone — not the Good Samaritans who want to help kids, as we just saw, and not the kids who think all strangers are out to get them. – L.