Paramus police turned to the public for help Tuesday following a pair of troubling incidents involving children and a spiky-haired stranger in an SUV.
Authorities aren’t sure whether they the driver who approached a 10-year-old girl Monday is the same one who frightened an 8-year-old boy riding his bike last month.
The girl was walking on Van Binsberger Boulevard near Midland Avenue, her parents told police, when a man in what was described as a “jungle-looking,” dark-colored SUV – possibly a Jeep Wrangler – pulled up to her around 3:20 p.m., Police Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg said.
“Do you want a ride?” she said he asked.
The girl ran home and told her parents, Ehrenberg said.
She described the stranger as white, heavyset, possibly in his 30s or 40s and maybe wearing a blue-and-white checked shirt.
“He had spikey hair with a fade on the sides,” the chief said the girl told police.
This followed an April 8 incident, around 1:45 p.m., near the corner of Azalea Street and Roosevelt Boulevard, Ehrenberg said.
The boy told police he was riding his bike when a dark-colored vehicle pulled up and a man inside asked if he wanted candy.
The boy, who rode directly home, described the man as white, 20 to 30 years old – with spiked blond hair.
Anyone who knows or sees anything that can help detectives investigate the reports is asked to contact Paramus police Department at (201) 262-3400 or use the department’s anonymous tips app at: paramuspolice.org.
Ehrenbert, meanwhile, provided safety tips for parents:
- Tell them to stay away from strangers. Explain what a stranger is. Note that even someone with a familiar face is a stranger if they don’t know the person well;
- Tell them to stay as far away from anyone following them on foot or in a car as possible and to not feel that they must answer any questions strangers ask them;
- Tell them to run and scream if someone puts his or her hands on them;
- Create a secret code word and tell your child not to go with anyone under any circumstances unless that person also knows the word;
- Tell them that adults shouldn’t ask children for help. For example, a child shouldn’t trust grown-ups who ask kids for directions or for help finding a puppy or kitten. A child who is approached in this way should tell the person, “Wait here and I’ll check with my mom or dad” and then find his or her parents right away:
- Tell them to always ask for permission before going anywhere with anybody. That means asking a parent or the grown-up in charge before leaving the yard or play area, or before going into someone’s home;
- Tell them not to accept any unplanned offers for a ride from anyone, known or unknown;
Be sure you know where they are going, how they’ll get there, who’s going with them and when they’ll be back. Be sure you’re home at the agreed-upon time or find a way to contact home directly.
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