Redcliff RCMP promoting stranger safety for kids following van incident

By Scott Roblin
June 4, 2019 - 3:47pm Updated: June 4, 2019 - 7:02pm

 

REDCLIFF, AB – Parents in Redcliff are expressing concern after reports of a group of kids interacting with an unknown individual on Monday.

A post on Facebook has been gaining traction locally, which claimed a group of girls heading to a pool near Margaret Wooding School was stopped by a man driving a white van.

According to the girls, the man approached them and asked a number of questions like their names, how old they were, and where they lived before driving away after the girls ran home.

Redcliff RCMP S/Sgt. Sean Maxwell confirmed they had received this complaint and are currently investigating.

“We’ve had a report to us last night of a white van driving around Redcliff and talking to some kids,” said Maxwell. “We’re certainly looking into that.”

Police did send out patrols to investigate the report, however they are still looking to locate the vehicle involved.

Maxwell said they were given a license plate number by the complainant, which does make a big difference in the investigation.

“If we do get a timely thing saying somebody is driving around a school right now and they're being seen, obviously we make patrols immediately,” said Maxwell. “But, it certainly helps if a member of the public gets a picture of people, vehicle license plate number.”

“Last night the complainant was able to get us a license plate number and we're still trying to track down the registered owner.”

Police say it’s a good reminder for parents and kids to sit down and have meaningful conversations about the dangers that speaking to strangers can pose.

Maxwell said these conversations need to happen every once in a while as a refresher in case kids run into these types of situations.

“Just because somebody is a stranger doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going out there to cause you harm,” he said. “But, at the same time it also doesn’t mean, especially as a child, that you go up and just start talking to them like they’re your best friend. You got to make sure that you’re being safe.”

While police encourage the public to report all complaints of suspicious activity, they don’t always result in charges or punishment.

That’s because some of these cases are misguided people interacting with kids in a way that can be seen as inappropriate or creepy.

Maxwell said it’s a good reminder to adults that public perception is everything.

“You’ve got some people that are out there that maybe should have used some more common sense in terms of talking to kids,” he said. “People are watching and they have to realize, nowadays especially, that people are going to call the police who could very well get your license plate. Suddenly, a police officer is at your door asking you what’s going on.”

Maxwell said they do see more kids outdoors in the summer with the longer days, but don’t usually see an increase in these suspicious persons complaints.

Though, they often do see parents keeping a more watchful eye on their children in the days and weeks following.

“What I do see is that once you get something like what happened reported to us last night, you do get people being more vigilant for a period of time,” he said. “We might get more calls in for a period of time.”

Maxwell added it’s a tight rope to walk for parents between safety and letting kids be kids. However he did say that healthy communication makes these conversations easier to have.

Full scale emergency exercise underway in city Wednesday