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For the second time in less than two weeks, Baltimore County Police Friday received reports of a child being approached by a person in a vehicle in Catonsville. No child was harmed in either case.
The most recent incident occurred in the Westchester area outside the residence of Brenda Pound on Windys Run Road.
According to police, a girl was standing alone in the front yard of the Pound home waiting for friends when a white van that was passing slowed down and asked the girl to get in. The girl ran inside the home and Pound called police. Pound said that neither she nor any other adult in the home saw the van but that neighbors have been talking about the incident.
Police Lieutenant John Rossbach, with Precinct One/Wilkens, said officers searched the area and also talked with neighbors. While one neighbor reported seeing a similar vehicle, the description was not an exact match to the one provided by the girl.
Friday’s incident followed one that occurred on April 26 in the Academy Heights neighborhood at Edmondson Avenue and Greenlow Road.
In that incident, an Arbutus Middle School student, who was waiting at a bus stop in the morning, was approached by a man who said he needed help pushing his car to a nearby gas station. After the incident, the parents notified the principal of the school, who in turn notified police.
According to Arbutus Middle School Principal Michelle Feeney, many parents called the school last week alarmed about the incident. A post was spreading on Facebook about two separate incidents that occurred last week.
Feeney told Patch that based on the report from the student, it wasn't as suspicious as it initially sounded, but the student did the right thing by reporting it.
Rossbach said that he does not believe the two incidents are related because the first was in another area of Catonsville and the descriptions of the vehicles do not match.
In Howard County in January, there was an incident of a stranger approaching a child at a bus stop.
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.
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