Suspicious reports prompt 'stranger danger' reminder from police
Anchorage police received several reports this week of suspicious people approaching children near Loretta French Sports Park in Chugiak.
In one case, an adult offered a child a ride. In another, the person reported turned out to be a legitimate pet owner looking for their missing dog.
The Anchorage Police Department said no crimes occurred, but situations like this serve as a reminder for parents to talk with their children about stranger danger. Police encourage parents to have conversations with children about personal safety, not walking off alone, creating a buddy system, and not talking to strangers or getting into cars with them even if the person says they know the child or their family.
“There are more kids out now because it’s getting close to summer. There are more people out and about," APD Capt. Josh Nolder said. "Obviously, people when you hear about one of these situations, we start worrying about more and more of them.”
Multiple cases of attempted abduction or kidnapping involving children across the state have occurred in recent years.
Last July, police say Lor P. Lee pulled over along the Old Glenn Highway and asked a boy on the path if he could help look for a missing child. The 13-year-old said he hadn't seen anything. According to court documents, Lee then asked the boy to get in his vehicle.
The boy said no and tried to bike away, but Lee grabbed him and threatened him with a knife. The two fought and the boy was able to escape on his bike and report the man's license plate to police. Lee was arrested and online court records show he faces two felony kidnapping charges and a felony assault charge. Records also show Lee was released on bail and ordered to house arrest with 24/7 electronic GPS monitoring.
In 2017, police in Anchorage investigated the attempted abduction of a Clark Middle School student who reported being grabbed by a man in a Jeep while she was waiting for the bus. The incident prompted increased resource officer presence at the school.
Most notably, Peter V. Wilson faces charges of kidnapping, along with three counts of first-degree murder and four counts of sexual abuse of a minor in connection to the 2018 disappearance and death of Kotzebue 10-year-old Ashley Johnson-Barr.
An APD spokesperson stated Friday the department is grateful for the children and adults who reported suspicious activity this week, but that descriptions were too vague to develop a suspect at this time. Anyone with information is asked to call dispatch at 311.
In its statement, the department also shared online resources for parents for how to talk to children about dangerous encounters with strangers.
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