Police: Despite Rumors, No Attempted Kidnapping at Library

A widely forwarded email about a woman offering a boy a ride Saturday was not an attempted kidnapping, but a 'well-intentioned' woman wanting to help the child, police say.

Wilmette police released a statement Tuesday night explaining that a widely discussed incident at the Wilmette Public Library on Saturday was not, in fact, an attempted kidnapping of a 10-year-old boy.

The boy had been at a pay phone outside when a woman pulled up and offered him a ride, police said. He told his mother, who told police, who investigated. In the meantime, an email about the incident, which included the detail that there had been another child in the car blindfolded, was forwarded widely throughout the community. Patch received the email from a concerned reader and fielded other questions about it as well.

Police said Tuesday night that the woman who had offered the ride learned of the community's concerns and came to police to say she had offered the ride out of concern for the boy. Police said she was "well intentioned," and came to police so the community could be reassured that there had not been an attempted kidnapping. 

Police said they hope parents will use this moment to discuss safety techniques with their children if approached by strangers.

The police's full press release is printed below:

On Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013 at approximately 2:00 PM, we identified the woman who had offered the 10 year old boy a ride home on Saturday, October 17th. After hearing about the community concern on this incident, the well intention woman came into the police station. She related that she was driving with her grandson and saw the boy who appeared to be in distress by the payphone. As a mother and grandmother, she was concerned and offered him a ride. Later on, she realized that this may have not been the best action. When she heard about the community concern, she wanted to advise us in order to end any suspicion of someone attempting to take a child.  

We would also like to make this incident a “teachable moment” with your children and a chance to put their safety skills to the test while enhancing their overall well being with the below Tips for Parents and Guardians. Also, for concerned parents who see an unknown child who appears to be in distress, it may be best to contact the local police to determine if child needs assistance.  

Tips for Parents or Guardians  

1. If anyone bothers your children or makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused, teach your children to trust their feelings and immediately get away from that person and tell you or a trusted adult*. 

2. Remember adults should never ask children for directions or help…so instruct your children to never approach a vehicle or accept money or gifts unless you told them it was OK to do for each specific instance. 

3. Teach your children they DO NOT have to be polite, when approached by someone they do not know and they need to get out of the situation as quickly and safely as possible. 

4. Teach your children to use preferred walking routes that avoid unsafe areas such as routes that you have shown them and school walking routes. 

5. Instruct your children to never leave a location with anyone until they have checked with you or a trusted adult. 

6. Never take shortcuts or go into isolated areas. 

7. Instruct your children to always walk with a friend, if possible. 

8. Instruct your children to leave items and clothing with their name on it at home. If anyone were to call their name, teach them not to be fooled or confused.  

*Trusted adult- someone you decide and teach your children they can go to for help or assistance, when you are not available i.e. teacher, principal, aunt, uncle, parent of best friend, etc… 


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