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Keeping your child safe

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - What happens when your child is approached by a total stranger. Is he or she capable of getting away?
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - Can your child fight off an abduction?

Police notice a spike in attempted abductions during summer months. And so far this year children have fought off would be abductors.

But in a special assignment ABC4 Utah asked the question "What would your child do?"

Often times it’s when parents are away that a stranger will strike.
That’s what happened to Axel Pacheco last month.

"Some guy came and said do you have a football,” Pacheco recalls.

The stranger grabbed Pacheco's hand.

“I didn't want to go," he says.

Police arrested Robert Kloer after an 11 year old friend called her dad who called 911.
Child abductions strike fear in the hearts of parents.

“I heard her scream and the squeal of tires,” says Tasha Kranendonk whose child was nearly abducted last week.

But her daughter was still there when she came outside. The stranger was gone.
It happens more than you think and those convicted of taking children have their reasons.

“I am not a pedophile,” Damon Crist said during a 2012 parole hearing. “There is nothing in my mindset at the time. I mean it wasn't a part of it for me.”

Crist was sentenced to prison in 2006 for grabbing a girl and leaving with her. But she managed to escape.

“I didn't have a plan,” he says. “I hadn’t thought it out. I've never hurt people.”

Police say children need to hear about Stranger-Danger from their parents.

“They don't take the time to have that conversation,” says detective Rick Wall.

Wall is part of the Salt Lake City police force that works with school children offering them safety tips.

“We want them to cause a scene, to make noise, to scream for help to summon the help of others,” says Wall.

He also has other suggestions:
-teach you children their full names, address and home phone number.
-how and when to use 911
-be familiar with your neighborhood and route to school
-and go through some ‘what if’ scenarios.

ABC4 put these suggestions to a test at Salt Lake City's Liberty Park. There we met with two mothers to see how their child would react to a stranger-danger situation.
First, Amber Brown’s five year old was put to the test.

“Can you help me find this puppy, let's go look, let's go look.”

The five year old was looking at a picture of a dog and he was willing to go search for the puppy.
His mother watched from a distance.

“Don't go, don't go,” she could be heard saying as she watched.

But as the boy walked off, and older child stepped in and pulled him away.

“I knew he was very friendly so I was scared but I'm glad he has people around that will protect him.” says Brown.

She now plans to have a heart to heart talk with her five year old.

"Have you seen my dog?” Another seven year old was asked this question by ABC4. His mother Liz Fritz wanted to find out whether her son would take the bait.

“This is very interesting for me." Fritz says as she watched her son being approached.

He walked away but then another little girl approached and looked at the picture of the puppy. A mother who was nearby with her own children noticed something wasn’t right and approached us.

“Do you know them?” she asked.
“No I was just seeing if they would help me with my dog,” I told her.
“No, no,” she replied and pulled the children away.

The woman had no idea this was an experiment with ABC4 cameras rolling.

“It was kind of the typical pedophile steal a kid technique,” Rachel Rettberg said after I told her about our experiment.

So why did this woman get involved?

“Because he (child) stopped what he was doing and acted like he was kind of interested in a way but I don't think he knew what he was supposed to do,” says Rettberg. (I did it) to be a good citizen.”

The child’s mother was watching all this unfold from a distance.

“I'm so grateful the general public recognizes what's going on and would put a stop to it because that's what I would do,” says Fritz.

Salt Lake City police offer their “25 ways to make kids safer” at their website. You can see those tips at http://slcpd.com/c0ntent/uploads/Take-25-Safer.pdf


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