On Saturday, March 17, in Jacksonville, Florida, parents alleged that a suspicious man tried to lure two little girl scouts selling cookies to his SUV in Grove Park, causing concern among neighbors. According to one of the parents, a man approached the girls and said he wanted to buy a $5 box of cookies.
However, the woman added that the man said he did not want to break his bigger bills and had plenty of singles in his car. He eventually asked if he could take the girls with him to his car.
She said that one of the parents told the man it was okay because he had parked across the street but that another parent intervened and informed him that the girls could not follow him.
The same woman said she followed the man in silence to see how far he parked from the church. She then discovered that the man parked two blocks away from the church. Then, she saw him get in his car and drove away.
Albert Byrd, the Holiday Hill Baptist Church pastor, says the Girl Scouts were selling Girl Scout cookies at the church's craft fair on Saturday, and the man's car was parked about two blocks away.
Pastor Byrd said, "Unfortunately, we live in a world where there are entities that will try to harm people, especially children," and he continued, "As a result of that, it makes us more aware, and we do tend to keep our eyes on things when people come and go."
He claims he found out about the incident after it occurred.
Worried Neighbor Shares a Photo of the SUV on Social Media
Another Jacksonville resident shared an SUV photo on Nextdoor App, claiming that the driver attempted to persuade the two young girls to accompany him to the car.
Nextdoor is an online neighborhood hub of trusted connections and developed for users to easily and safely exchange knowledge, goods, and services. It's a secure platform where people can share the kinds of things they do with their neighbors in person online. Every neighbor or user must double-check their address in the area. Every neighbor or user must identify themselves by their full name.
According to one Nextdoor user, the same car slowed down by her house when her children were playing outside, but the driver abruptly took off after noticing her and her spouse.
A dark-colored SUV followed her niece on a bike, according to another woman on Nextdoor.
When neighbors in other areas started experiencing similar incidents, Pastor Byrd became particularly worried. He said, "A word that we hear in a lot of places, vigilance. And it's not only parents; it's community members. You know, you need to be vigilant about what's going on."
Holiday Hill resident Bre Cherry also said in the app, "We've got to do everything in our power to protect our kids."
Tips to prevent your child from getting kidnapped
- Tell your child not to talk to strangers
- Remind your child not to take anything from strangers, may it be sweets or toys
- Always remind your child that they can trust you and that they can tell you anything
- Know who your child's friends are
- Keep the line of communication between you and your child open in any case of emergency
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