11:30 p.m. Update: Officials from Arbutus and Catonsville middle
schools sent a letter to parents Thursday evening to ease concerns
about an April 26 incident involving an 8th grade student who
encountered a stranger who asked for assistance while he waited for
the morning bus on Edmondson Avenue.
The incident "could have been suspicious or not," said Arbutus Middle
School principal Michelle P. Feeney.
"The man didn't threaten [the student]. He didn't ask him to get in
the car. He just asked him to help push the car to the gas station."
The school's statement said that the child is safe and reminded
parents to speak with their children about "stranger danger."
(Original Story) Baltimore County police confirmed Thursday that an Arbutus Middle School student was approached by a stranger in a car in Catonsville last week but they said they believe it was an isolated incident.
Between 7:20 a.m. and 7:25 a.m. on April 26, a student from was approached by someone in a gold-brown car at the intersection of Edmondson Avenue and Greenlow Road in Catonsville, which is near Academy Heights.
According to Sgt. Brandon Rogers with the Baltimore County Police Department, a man in the car asked the student to get in his car. When the student declined, the man asked, again, saying he needed help with his car and was going to the gas station. The child declined again and the man drove off.
The suspect was described by poilce as a bald African-American man in his late 30s or early 40s with a beard and glasses. After the incident, the child's parents notified the school.
Since then all of the area school resource officers have been notified, Rogers said, and officers have been notified of the incident and the vehicle description.
"We've had our officers in the area on the lookout since this has occurred," he said. Since then, the vehicle has not been seen by police.
A post was circulating on Facebook that described two such incidents. According to the Facebook post, one occurred this week in Academy Heights at Edmondson and Prospect avenues, and the other involved a student. The accuracy of those reports could not be confirmed beyond the single incident at Edmondson and Greenlow.
Catonsville Middle School Principal Michael Thorne said that he was made aware of the incident, but to his knowledge no Catonsville Middle School student was involved. He said he was told by police that the student involved was an Arbutus Middle student. Thorne said the school resource officer has been made aware of the situation.
Several parents also contacted Patch inquiring about any incidents.
Rogers said that if parents are aware of more than one incident, they should notify police by calling 911 or the Wilkens Precinct's non-emergency number at 410-887-2222.
In Howard County in January, there was an incident of a .
Baltimore County Police offered the following tips to families on how to be safe when getting to and from school:
- Be aware of putting your child's name on anything that is readily visible. This might allow an abductor to get on a "first name" basis with your child and develop a sense of trust.
- Walk the route to and from school with your children, pointing out safe places to go if they are being followed or need help.
- Talk to your children about strangers approaching them and some of the ploys they might use. Stress to them that adults shouldn't need a child's help to find a puppy or get directions; they should ask another adult for that information.
- Teach your children that it is okay to say NO - tell them to trust their instincts.
- Remind your children to never give the impression they are home alone if strangers telephone or come to the door. Never open the door for a stranger, and teach them about dialing 911.