Cochrane RCMP have released a composite sketch of a man they believe tried to lure an 11-year-old girl into his van earlier this week.
It happened on Monday near a playground on the corner of Sunset Way and Sunset Park.
According to RCMP, the girl was walking home when she was approached by the man, who tried to coax her into the back of his van saying he had an ice cream business. The girl pretended to call her dad and was able to get away.
RCMP describe the man as 40 to 50 years old with a medium build and a pot belly, and shaggy brown hair which looked dyed. He was wearing a red and blue flannel shirt, and jeans at the time.
His vehicle is described as a white, full sized van with rusted wheel wells, and RCMP said it potentially had a black roof rack.
At a nearby school, the attempt to lure the vehicle is a concern for parents picking up their kids.
“It’s scary,” Kelly Rybka told Global News. “It’s a horrible world we’re living in right now isn’t it? You don’t think it’s going to happen on your doorstep, and when it does it’s mind-blowing.”
Krista Friesen is considering not letting her kids walk on their own to their friends’ houses after recent events.
She said she has been speaking with her kids about safety tips around strangers and urging them to never get into a vehicle of somebody they don’t know.
“If they’re even with a couple of friends, they would definitely go to somebody’s vehicle if they said they had kittens or puppies or something,” she said. “It’s scary for our younger kids and our older kids.”
It’s the second child luring attempt within a week under investigation by Cochrane RCMP.
On Thursday, police were called to a stretch of Carolina Crescent for a report of a suspicious man who approached two young boys and tried to lure them into a van.
According to RCMP, the boys were able to run away and get help from a parent.
The man is described as between 40 and 50 years old, with orange or red hair and a beard and driving a white panel van.
On Thursday, an RCMP spokesperson said they did not believe the incidents were related due to the difference in descriptions, adding it’s still early in the investigation.
It comes just days after an unrelated attempted child abduction in Strathmore, where a young girl was able to escape after two men forced her into a pickup truck on Tuesday.
Melissa Clattenberg has been teaching a Red Cross child safety course for 10 years. She said parents should have a conversation with their children about the incidents and what to do if they find themselves in a similar position.
“Our kids are so eager to be outside right now with the nice weather, so just have that extra refresh with them,” Clattenberg said. “Tell them what neighbours are around if they’re not home that they can go to, and just have that extra talk, be honest with your kids and know they should be on alert right now.”
Anyone with information on either incident is asked to contact Cochrane RCMP at 403-851-8000. or anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).
Cochrane RCMP are also asking for any security camera footage from the incidents.