ALERT: The same man may be responsible for trying to lure girls into his car in several Bergen County towns, say police, who warn youngsters to be aware of their surroundings and to immediately dial 911 on their cellphones if something similar happens to them.
CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAS THE SCOOP: A keen-eyed patrol officer led to the arrest of a 20-year-old mechanic in connection with a series of luring incidents in three Bergen County towns. CLICK HERE
“We want you thinking about staying safe, staying calm and calling police right away,” Tenafly Police Chief Michael Bruno said in a direct plea to youngsters through CLIFFVIEW PILOT Wednesday afternoon.
Reported incidents so far included one a short time earlier in Dumont and in both Tenafly and Cresskill on Tuesday, as well as one last Thursday, also in Tenafly, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.
UPDATE: A man wanted for trying to lure girls into his car in Tenafly and Cresskill is believed to have tried the same thing with a 15-year-old girl Dumont girl on Wednesday, Police Chief Brian Venezio told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . CLICK HERE FOR THE STORY
In at least two of the cases, the driver pulled alongside girls walking home from school sometime between 3-4 p.m. in a sport utility vehicle — possibly a beige or tan-colored Honda Pilot.
He is described as:Tenafly Police Chief Michael Bruno
- in his 20s
- light brown/dirty brown hair
- thin wire-rimmed glasses
In Tenafly last week, the driver told a 17-year-old girl walking near the high school that his name is Jim, Bruno told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
“He was very nervous,” the chief said. He said, ‘I need your help.’ He asked her first if she wanted a job. He said if she got in his car, he’d explain it to her. Then he circled the block and passed her again. She made her way to the high school and he drove off.”
Police have not confirmed that the same man is believed responsible in all of the reported incidents so far. But Bruno said a 13-year-old girl told them a man who drove up to her as she walked near the middle school yesterday fit the same description.
“Do you have a minute?” the teen said he asked her.
She told police she kept walking, but he kept rolling the vehicle beside her, at one point asking how to find a particular street.
“She ignored him, but he came past one more time,” Bruno told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
“Obviously, somebody is out there. We’re putting a lot of people out on the road to find this guy,” the chief said. “You might see us. You might not.”
Bruno has also been active, sending notices to schools, meeting with district officials, talking to his counterparts in other towns. Dumont Chief Brian Venezio and Cresskill Chief Edward Wrixson are doing the same. School officials have issued text notices and email blasts to parents.
Teens, please read the following carefully (Parents: Show your children):
1. Be aware of your surroundings . Save the texting, phone chats and iPods for later at home.
2. DO NOT get close to a stranger who approaches you , either in a vehicle or on foot, and tries to talk to you.
3. If someone does, turn around and walk in the opposite direction . FORCE that person to turn around. Chances are greater the person, and you, will be noticed by someone else.
4. If you have a cellphone, DO NOT waste a second. Dial 911 . That is the priority .
5. ONLY IF YOU CAN: Note the license plate number — or as much of it as you can.
In addition to tips for children, Bruno directly addressed parents of schoolchildren:
“I’m hoping you’ve spoken to your child already about such things,” the chief said. “But if you haven’t, give them the tips, and tell them to try their best to keep their cool.
“This way they’ll remember to call police first. And they might notice some details that help lead to an arrest.”