Vail Daily letter: Kids’ safety at stake
Vail, CO, Colorado
Living in Happy Valley, it’s easy to lower our danger antennae, but don’t forget that where kids congregate, odd characters show up as well. In the last couple of days, in separate incidents, adolescents who were not under direct supervision have been approached by young adults and older adults acting friendly.
In one incident, a woman (masculine body and noticeable upper anatomical features) through the use of a helmet-mounted video camera filmed kids riding bikes, then offered up the helmet for kids to try filming her while riding her bike.
She then invited the kids to her white van, where she attempted to download the videos to a laptop computer. While doing this, she asked for e-mail addresses so that she could send the videos to these kids. While there were adults nearby, this woman made no contact with those adults.
The kids, intrigued by the helmet-cam, put themselves, unknowingly, in danger by going to this person’s vehicle and giving up information. According to one of the kids, the van’s license plate is from Texas.
Interestingly, this out-of-towner had purchased a BMX bike from a private individual she met after visiting the local bike shop, the same day prior to filming the kids. Having the bike with her was an easy bridge to approach kids!
In another incident, two older teenagers or young adults made contact with different adolescents by complimenting one kid about his bike, then asking to ride it (he was declined), then hanging around the kids, riding loops and chatting (heavy use of foul language).
After determining a bike was left unattended, the men rolled it to their black Ford truck, which had a mounted silver truck box behind the cab. The men asked the kids to help load it in the truck, but the kids declined. After mentioning the bike belonged to their friend, the men drove away with the bike, a high-end white Yeti full suspension.
The owner returned to retrieve the bike about 30 minutes later, only to learn that it had been stolen. The police were then contacted.
While both incidents occurred in Eagle, any place where kids group up such as skate parks or bike tracks or even parks, talk to your kids about being approached.
In both cases, kids’ guards were either down or they were made to feel relatively comfortable by these adults, by the use of compliments or cool technology. Emphasize vigilance and instinct, teach them never to approach vehicles, never give out information, and leave the area if they sense something isn’t right!