By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY - Local law enforcement is asking parents to educate their children on how to stay safe when approached by a stranger.
Equipping children with the tools they need to stay safe on those occasions when they are alone can change whether a child is hurt or even abducted, law enforcement said.
The Sebastian Police Department has been investigating two suspicious incidents reported as an attempted abduction of a child, according to a police report.
To date, no suspect has been identified, said Steve Marcinik, spokesman for the Sebastian Police Department.
Children should be instructed to be on their guard for any stranger who may approach them, not just people that are unusually dressed and perhaps physically intimidating or frightening.
"Stranger danger" presentations were made at Sebastian and Pelican Island elementary schools and the emphasis was that children should know it's OK to get away or ignore adults if they are all alone.
"Big people don't ask little people for help," Officer Marcinik said.
Not speaking to strangers and quickly walking or running away from a place where a person may have initiated contact should be encouraged.
If ducking into a store or school seems like a safe option, remind the child that a police officer or store manager might offer some assistance and refuge until a parent can arrive.
Walking alone is not recommended and shortcuts through empty lots, woods or back streets are not a good idea.
Memorizing a parent's telephone number and the family's home address can help a child be identified should they become separated from familiar surroundings for any reason
Two separate families came forward to report on two separate days their young daughter was approached close to Sebastian Elementary School by someone, in both cases a black male, asking them to come with them.
In both cases, the child refused and the person drove away, the report said.
Nothing similar has been reported recently to the Indian River County Sheriff's Office, said Deputy Thomas Raulen, public information officer.
Though the reported incidents took place in Sebastian, the different agencies meet together to discuss county-wide strategies for various crimes and the attempted abductions were discussed in the most recent meeting last week, he said.
The first incident, reported on Oct. 25, took place on Oct. 24 at approximately 3:45 p.m. A girl was riding her bicycle home from school and reached the intersection of Sebastian Boulevard and Easy Street when a black male operating a royal blue unknown model two-door sedan pulled up beside her.
According to the report, the man stated he was a police officer, was holding a silver star badge and said he needed the girl to get inside his car.
The girl, who said the badge appeared to be a toy, refused, and the driver drove away.
The subject was described as a black male, bald, wearing a blue shirt, possibly with a medium build.
The second incident, reported on Oct. 26, occurred on Oct. 25 at approximately 8:30 a.m.
The report said the girl's mother reported that while in the parent pick up line at Sebastian Elementary School a black male asked her child to get in his vehicle and pointed his finger and thumb, as if to imitate a firearm.
The child walked away and saw the man get into a navy blue, four-door medium-size sedan. The child said she believed the tag was from out-of-state and the first letter of the license tag was "K."
The subject was described as a man, about 40 years old with a buzz cut, wearing a red, white and blue striped shirt and beige pants.
The Sebastian Police Department is requesting that parents and citizens be vigilant and report any suspicious people, vehicles or acts by calling 911.