COROZAL, Wed. Jan. 28, 2015–Residents in northern Belize are currently on high alert since last week when word spread that recently, the occupant of a white Toyota Prado, described as a white man speaking with an American accent, has been making attempts to lure schoolchildren into the vehicle, particularly females, through the use of money and/or candy in that vicinity.
We understand that the matter has gotten so disturbing that yesterday, Tuesday, the administration of La Immaculada RC Primary School in Orange Walk issued a note to parents warning them about the overtures being made by the man to children, which, according to the school management, had recently happened twice during lunch time, with the children being photographed and offered candy by the stranger in both cases.
To address the matter, the school’s management assured parents that teachers are doing their best to address the “stranger danger topic”, but still encouraged parents to talk to their children about safety tips.
Corozal police confirmed similar reports that were made in that district today, but rather than to cause further alarm within the community, Officer Commanding Corozal Police, Superintendent Andrew Ramirez, noted that their objective is to keep everyone abreast of the situation.
Ramirez told the media that at around 8:30 p.m. last Wednesday, January 21, they received a report that a 6- or 7-year-old girl was heading home from a shop on the San Andres Road in Corozal when she was approached by a man with an American accent in a white, vehicle without tint, who offered her money to go with him, but since she did not know the individual, she became fearful and ran off. Ramirez noted that while they have yet to ascertain the license plate of the vehicle, the Corozal community and other surrounding areas have been notified to be on the lookout for a white “Prado-type” vehicle with no hub caps and a wheel on the back, which is being driven by a white man with “bumps” on his face.
Video footage which was captured by a surveillance camera at the said shop in Corozal showed the girl departing the store, and shortly after, a white vehicle, believed to be an older version of the Toyota Prado that was parked outside the establishment, drove up and slowed down beside her.
At that time, it is believed that the driver attempted to lure the young girl inside the vehicle, but she fled, after which the Prado turned down the same road to follow the girl, who fortunately escaped.
According to Ramirez, the individual apparently targets less privileged children in areas that are poorly lit.
Police subsequently learned that a vehicle of the same description was seen in the Patchakan and Chan Chen villages of Corozal earlier that same day.
Authorities have reportedly been trying to locate the vehicle, but have not yet found it, or identified the person behind the wheel.
Nevertheless, Corozal police have since increased their vigilance and patrols, but Ramirez said that he believes that there is a strong possibility that the suspect may have gotten wind of their monitoring and changed his vehicle and/or location.
Ramirez warned parents to be cognizant of the dangers in sending unaccompanied children out on errands late at night, and urged the community to call 911 if they see anything suspicious.