Friday, April 16, 2004

Child flees enticement, fifth of year in township

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

ANDERSON TWP. - For the third time in eight days and fifth time this year, a child enticement was reported Thursday in this eastern Hamilton County community.

A man whose description is similar to one given in the last reported enticement, on Monday morning, stopped near an 8-year-old boy about 11:20 a.m. as he rode his bike on the sidewalk of Kings Cove Way at Wetheridge Drive, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

The man opened the door of his pick-up truck and asked the child if he wanted a ride home. The boy didn't reply and went to his home nearby and told his mother, who called authorities.

The man was described as a white male with a salt-and-pepper mustache and who was balding.

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Barnett said even though the suspect's description in the latest incident was similar to the one reported Monday, investigators don't know if it's the same man.

"So far the kids have done the right thing. They've responded correctly by getting away from the suspect as soon as possible and informing a responsible adult," he said. "But we can't sit back and wait. We have to find this guy before something bad happens."

Under Ohio law, child enticement is a misdemeanor and is defined as when an adult tries to lure or accompany any child under the age of 14. Last year, there was one reported enticement in Anderson Township. In the last three years, there were 15 enticements in the sheriff's jurisdiction, five in each year between 2001 and 2003.

The Thursday incident shocked Anderson Township mother Beth Voorhees. She usually keeps her younger children, ages 2 and 3, with her, but now says she plans to keep a closer eye on her 13-year-old daughter, too.

"This definitely frightens me," she said. "This brings it right there in your front yard."

It sounds like the predators are much bolder."

Coincidentally, sheriff's deputies in Anderson last year stepped up patrols in public places kids frequent such as school bus stops and parks. And earlier this year, they started putting on safety classes for parents and their children at the M.E. Lyons YMCA off Clough Pike and for neighborhood block watches and others.

It's important now for parents to make sure they know where their children are at all times and talk to them about what to do if approached by a stranger, Barnett said.

"You can't just hope they'll do the right thing," he said. "You have to teach them. Adults don't ask kids to go for rides with them or go hunt for their pets.

"If they put their hands on you, fight, holler and try to get away as quick as you can. And report it to law enforcement right away," he said. "The quicker we find out about it the quicker we can get the description out."

To report a child enticement or to ask for safety classes for your neighborhood, call the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office at 825-1500.

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