'Stranger danger' reported near Champaign's South Side School

'Stranger danger' reported near Champaign's South Side School

CHAMPAIGN — Police on Thursday warned residents about a stranger offering a student a ride on Wednesday afternoon near South Side School.

The Champaign Police Department reported that a student from Edison Middle School was approached “in the area of South Side School” at about 3:15 p.m. Wednesday by a man in a car who offered a ride.

The student answered “no” and ran from the area.

The driver was described as a white man in his 40s with blond crewcut hair. He was wearing a white athletic shirt with green stripes on the arms, gray or silver shorts and white tennis shoes. He was wearing sunglasses. The student did not know him.

The vehicle was described as a newer model black Mitsubishi with tinted windows and a Mitt Romney campaign sticker in the back passenger window.

“We are unable to determine whether the motive of the individual was criminal, or simply an act of kindness,” said the police department in a news release, but added that it’s a felony to offer a child a ride without the parent’s consent.

Especially at the start of a new school year, police want residents to be aware of the law, said Champaign police Lt. Robert Rea.

"We want them to stay away from that as much as possible," said Rea. "Somebody just trying to be nice can scare a kid."

Click here to see a copy of the letter the Champaign school district sent to parents about the incident.

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wayward wrote on August 30, 2013 at 8:08 am

Out of curiosity, is it also a felony to offer a kid a ride in an emergency situation?  The idea of offering some random kid a ride for no reason seems weird and inappropriate, so I've never done it.  But what if there's an injury or severe weather coming in?

asparagus wrote on August 30, 2013 at 9:08 am

If there was an emergency I would offer to help, including giving a ride.  Still, there is plenty of risk of misunderstanding.