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School officials caution parents after children say man approached them

By: Patty McAlpin Lincoln News Messenger Reporter
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A Sept. 27 incident involving a man approaching two children walking to school “sounds like” a misunderstanding, according to Lincoln Police. But a school principal and Marc Klaas, founder of Beyond the Missing and the Klaas Kids Foundation, say otherwise. On Sept. 27, school representatives quickly advised parents of the man’s vehicle and his physical description. And Lincoln Cpl. Keith Johnson that day said the police department would provide extra patrol before and after school. Western Placer Unified School District Superintendent Scott Leaman sent out a broadcast to district families Sept. 27 stating, “at 7:30 a.m. Sept. 27, two Glen Edwards Middle School students were approached by a man in a car at the corner of O and 8th streets asking where they lived and if the man could take the boy home to fix his hair. “ Sept. 27 was “crazy hair day” at Glen Edwards School and the boy had ponytails. The students ran home and the mother of the girl called police, according to Leaman and the girl’s mother. The man is described as clean cut with curly white hair and 50-years-old. The vehicle is described as a newer model dark blue or black Honda with silver trim. “My daughter came in the house screaming and crying,” Colleen Stricklin said. The family lives about a block from the high school. Her 12-year-old daughter and 11-year-old friend were walking to the middle school, a 10 to 12-minute walk, according to Stricklin. “It’s extremely frightening. The officer said there was no crime committed because the man did not take the kids,” Stricklin said. “But it was not normal. It was enough to send the kids home in tears and scared to death.” Glen Edwards Middle School Principal Shelly Hoover said she spoke with Stricklin and the children after they arrived at school Sept. 27. “It is totally inappropriate to stop a child on the way to school,” Hoover said. After talking with Stricklin and the children, Johnson said, the officer sent to take a report determined that the incident was a misunderstanding. Neither the man nor the vehicle was located, according to Johnson. “There was no contact,” Johnson said. “The man did not get out of the car or try to lure the children.” “I can understand why the mother was upset,” Johnson said. Johnson and Hoover both said there have been no incidents in which vehicles approached children walking to or from school so far this school year. Klaas, founder of the Klaas Kids Foundation, said a stranger approaching youth walking to school is not acceptable unless there is a compelling reason. The nonprofit Beyond the Missing was formed by Klaas to aid in the recovery of abducted and missing children throughout the country. His 12-year-old daughter, Polly, was kidnapped and murdered in Petaluma in 1993. “Adults have no business approaching a child walking to school if there is no emergency or something obviously compelling,” Klaas said. “If what happened is true, then I suggest a dangerous person is lurking around your community trying to hit on little kids. There’s a million ways to lure a young child. I haven’t heard of that particular lure. It’s about getting the kid into the car and then what? “ Klaas said the subject should be brought up at a community forum such as a City Council meeting. “The only weird thing is law enforcement’s reaction,” Klaas said. “Their job is public safety. This seems to be a public-safety issue.”