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     Safety Tips and Prevention

    The Reading School District has created this special webpage to provide information, tips and resources about safety and prevention. Along with parents and law enforcement in Berks County, we are uniting to taking a stand against attempted child abductions. As of Thursday, seven municipalities had reported attempted abductions. 
     
    "Obviously, we have a serious situation going on. Our children are at risk with what's been happening," said Chris Celmer, an assistant superintendent in the Reading School District. 
     
    "Arm them (students) with the information they need to protect themselves," added Berks County Sheriff Eric Weaknecht.
      
    We will continue to update this page with information and resources. 

     
     
    Special Safety Event Held on Friday, Feb. 27
    Those who are interested in sharing thoughts or ideas were invited to join the Olivet Boys and Girls Club at a community forum from 6-7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27 at the Police Athletic League building, 325 Walnut St., Reading. Olivet hosted the event, however, representatives from the Reading School District, as well as other community organizations, were also present. We encouraged parents and interested community members to attend. More details will be shared as we receive them from Olivet.
     

    Video PSA with Sheriff Eric Weaknecht and the Berks County Sheriff's Office
    The Reading School District teamed up on Thursday with Berks County Sheriff Eric Weaknecht to launch a video PSA for parents and children. Click the below links to watch the video:

    Special Message from Police Chief William Heim regarding recent attempted luring cases
    (released March 6, 2015)

    I want to address the recent rash of reports of attempted child luring in Reading.

    What began as a credible report of a man trying to get a young child into his vehicle on January 27th has now resulted in 17 reported incidents as of March 3rd. They have involved children and adult victims and a variety of offender and vehicle descriptions and methods of operation. Nine of these incidents could be classified as attempts to get a juvenile into a car. The ages of the children in these incidents ranged from 8 to 16. There were three incidents in which the offender description and vehicle description were fairly consistent – all in the Milmont area.  One of these involved a 22 year old female who was asked if she wanted a ride. The other two involved 13 year old females.

    The Reading Police Department is actively investigating each and every incident. There is real concern for our community and our children, and both our patrol and investigative divisions are keenly aware of these reports.

    To date, there have not been any injuries to any of the reported victims and no victim has been abducted.  There has been a wide variety of situations reported; some of them were not attempts to lure a child but some other action that was thought to be suspicious during this time of high alert.   

    Included in this were incidents where the victim thought a man was addressing her as “honey” but it was found he was speaking to another person. There was a report of a man in front of a pizza restaurant inviting a group of high school girls into the restaurant for free pizza, another of a man waving at children who turned out to be a school staffer waving them into school, and a report from an adult young woman whom a man asked if he could “harass her a minute.” Other incidents reportedly occurred in a area where cameras would have captured at least part of the activity but those could not be substantiated after checking camera views. 

    The early reports in Reading occurred in the city’s Milmont section, but then subsequent reports were spread to other locations. A couple of the early reports in the city were somewhat consistent with other reports in the county, but most were different in every way. It is likely that many of the reports were the result of justifiable high alert and calling the police just in case it was related to other incidents.

    It is highly unlikely that so many child luring attempts have been made by so many radically differently described suspects in so many differently described vehicles in this relatively short span of time. However, we are still working on those reports that are unresolved and pursuing any lead in furtherance of identifying any suspects or discounting the report as given.

    We would ask that citizens continue to be vigilant and watch out for our children and continue to report suspicious activity as soon as possible so police have the best chance of resolving it.     


    Safety and Prevention Tips for Parents and Students
    Teachers, principals and staff members have been talking to all students about "Stranger Danger" this week. The following flyers will be sent home with all students on Friday: 


    Here are additional tips for parents on ensure their children stay safe going to and from school:

    • Remind your children to check first with an adult before going anywhere, helping anyone, accepting anything or getting into a car
    • Tell children to always take a friend when going places or playing outside
    • Teach children to say "No" if someone tries to touch or hurt them
    • Make sure children know they should tell a trusted adult if anything makes them feel sad, scared or confused.the route to and from school with your child, pointing out landmarks and safe places to go if they need help
    • If your child rides the bus, wait with them or make sure they're supervised by someone you trust at the bus stop
    • Teach children to recognize the tricks someone may use to abduct them such as asking for help or offering them a ride
    • Encourage your child to kick, scream and make a scene if anyone tries to take them
    • Instruct children to get away as fast as possible if someone is following them, and to turn around and walk the other direction if they're being followed by someone in a car
    • Make sure your child's school has your up-to-date emergency contact information
    • Make sure your child knows how to reach you in case of emergency.

    Source: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

     

    ALERTS
     
    Reading Eagle has compiled the full list of attempted abductions. Click here to see the list. 

    The following involved Reading School District students:
     
    Jan. 27: A man tried to lure a 13-year-old Southwest Middle School student into his black SUV near Millmont Elementary School. The only description available was of a man wearing a dark hat.

    Feb. 25: At about 7:30 a.m., a man in a green SUV tried to lure a 13-year-old girl at Lancaster Avenue and Hoover Street. The girl was waiting for a school bus to Southwest Middle School. The man was described as white with dirty-blond hair.

    Feb 26: At about 8:10 a.m., a man across the street tried waving over two elementary-age girls from outside of Millmont Elementary School. The man was described as possibly Latino, about 40 years old and about 5 feet 7 inches tall with a slender build. He was wearing a black jacket with the hood up, jeans and a black beanie. (Further investigation revealed the person was actually a school employee who was waving the girls into school, police have determined.)

    Feb. 26: A 13th and Green Elementary School student has reported an attempted luring. He said he was walking on Green Street after school on Thursday, Feb. 26. Two white males were parked in a green and red van, and they rolled down the passenger-side window. They told him they were there to pick him up and that they knew his parents names. The men did not give correct names of the boy's parents so he ran home. He and his mother reported the incident to school staff late Friday morning, and city police have been notified.  
     
    Feb. 27: 

    A student at 13th and Green reported walking home on Friday afternoon (Friday, Feb. 27) in the 600 block of N. 12th Street, between Greenwich and Oley streets. A Hispanic man, age 50-60, asked him to get in his car. The car was a dark-colored van. The man was wearing a black hat and black jacket with a white shirt underneath.The boy ran home and told his mother, who filed a report with the police. She reported the incident to the school today. This is a separate incident from the one reported to the school on Friday.

     
    March 2:
    A 5th grade student at Riverside Elementary was walking on Centre Avenue near the Children's Home of Reading with her sibling after early dismissal today (Monday, March 2). A man in a green Durango pulled up, rolled down his window and asked her to get in his car. She and her sibling began to run home. The man then ran the red light at Centre Avenue and Spring Street as he fled. Both students are safe.  
     
    March 3: City Police received another report of an attempted child luring on Tuesday, March 3. According to the Reading Eagle:

    The latest report came from a 16-year-old girl who said a man in a pickup truck that stopped in the 700 block of Spring Street called to her as she was walking to Reading High School about 8 a.m. and asked her to get in his truck, said Capt. Damond Kloc of the criminal investigations division.


    In Tuesday morning’s incident, a white, middle aged man with long hair and a salt-and-pepper reportedly said “come over here” to the teen and asked her to get into his truck. She hurried away and the man drove off.

    The vehicle was described as a green, four-door pickup with a ladder and a blue carpet hanging off the bed.

    If you have any information, please contact City Police immediately.

     

     
    Facebook page
    Rebecca Myer, of Spring Township, launched a Facebook campaign called "Stepping Out." The effort is meant to encourage community members to be outside and alert as kids are walking to and from school. Click here to visit the page.
     

     
    Media: 
     

     
    Resources: