PBL parents warned about strangers offering rides to kids

PBL parents warned about strangers offering rides to kids

PAXTON — Paxton-Buckley-Loda school district officials are alerting parents of a third incident in an eight-day span involving a young person being approached by a stranger.

Paxton Police Chief Bob Bane said the latest incident occurred at 9:30 p.m. Monday at Westlawn Park, at the intersection of Elm and Orleans streets.

An 18-year-old female was on a swing in the park when a dark-colored, newer-model sport utility-type vehicle approached the park on Orleans Street after turning off of Cherry Street, Bane said.

"A female got out of the passenger side and approached the victim," Bane said. "The woman asked the teenager if she could help her and tell her where American Street was. The teenager pointed in the right direction, and the woman asked her if she could get in the car to show her. The victim started placing a phone call when the suspect walked back to the vehicle, got in the passenger side, and went eastbound on Orleans Street."

The female passenger was described as a middle-aged female, age 30 to 35, with either brown or black shoulder-length wavy hair, light pale skin, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans.

There was no description provided of the driver.

Bane said he contacted PBL school district officials, and parents were to be notified Tuesday morning.

Another incident occurred at 8:05 a.m. Sunday in front of the Full Gospel Christian Fellowship, 619 S. Railroad Ave., Bane said.

In that incident, two young girls walking by the church were approached by a vehicle, described as a black van or sport utility vehicle, that was being driven by a "white older female," possibly in her late 50s, Bane said. Also in the vehicle was a child, 8 to 9 years old.

Bane said the vehicle first drove by the girls going south on Railroad Avenue (U.S. 45) and then turned around. The vehicle then came back north toward the girls, and its driver then asked them if they wanted a ride.

The girls said no, Bane said.

One of the girls immediately called 911 from her cellphone, Bane said.

Another incident occurred Aug. 19, when a man reportedly tried to lure a young girl into a car near Washington and Prospect streets, alongside Glen Cemetery on Paxton's southeast side.

In that incident, the vehicle was described as an "older, rough-looking, possibly dark blue four-door car," Bane said. The driver was described as an older white man with gray hair and a long gray beard who was wearing a gray Bud Light T-shirt.

Possible attempted child abductions have also been reported recently in Monticello and Champaign.

Anyone with information about the incidents in Paxton is asked to call Ford County Crimestoppers at 784-4173 or Paxton police at 379-4315. Informants may remain anonymous, and a cash reward of up to $1,000 is offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

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