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Stranger 'tries to lure girl into van' in St Austell

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4:52pm 14th March 2018
(Updated 4:52pm 14th March 2018)

A teenager has described the frightening moment a man tried to lure her into a van in St Austell.

Luckily, Jaz managed to ward him off in the Gover area of the town on Tuesday afternoon.

It comes after Pirate FM told you about reports of children being approached by strangers.

Schools sent text alerts to parents after the alleged incidents that happened in January and March.

Jaz said: "To anyone who has children who live in the Gover area in St Austell, I advise you to be careful if your children are walking home.

"I've just had a guy in a white Ford transit pull over telling me to get in his van!".

She has reported the incident to police and is urging other local families to be cautious.

What incidents have been reported to police?

The first happened at about 3pm on 25th January on Sandy Hill near to the school, when a woman and her two children were shouted at from across the road by a man walking in the opposite direction. The woman continued walking down the hill with her children and the man continued his journey walking up the hill. Police say he made no attempt to approach the children or even cross the road. No-one was harmed during the incident and the matter was investigated by officers, who say this does not appear to be a serious abduction attempt.

The second incident happened on Sunday 4th March at around 10.30am in Holmbush Square. A woman and her two children were shouted at by a man from across the square who was beckoning them to come towards him. The woman and her two children ignored his request, walked off towards Tesco and didn't see the man again. Officers attended but could not find him.

The final incident was reported to police on 8th March but occurred on 24th February at around 3.30pm. A woman said that her daughter was outside of her house playing in the Porthpean area when a woman in a silver car drove down and took photographs of the girl and her friend. The vehicle then drove off but no vehicle details were obtained.

What is being done to tackle it?

Police patrols are being directed to the town to reassure the public.

Superintendent Ian Drummond-Smith said: "I want to reassure the public that the police are take any report of this nature seriously.

"In this case we do not believe the three incidents are linked and in fact the description of the suspect is significantly different at each incident.

"We would also urge the public to report any concerns of suspicious behaviour to the Police immediately".

What should I do if I think I'm being followed?

  • Keep Calm

If you see a potential stalker in the rearview mirror, don’t slam on the gas to rush away from them as a knee-jerk reaction. On the contrary, it’s better to slow down because it gives you time to think things through. Personal security expert Robert Siciliano suggests driving to a police station or other authority office if you suspect someone is following your car. If you’re on foot, stop to look at a store window or tie your shoes, all while staying aware of your surroundings. Use that time to gather your thoughts, do a little deep breathing, and take stock of what’s happening around you.

  • Pay Attention

We do a lot of things on auto-pilot. How many times have you driven home only to pull into your driveway and realise you don’t recall the last three turns you made? If you think someone’s stalking you, make it a point to be extra observant.

This is doubly true if you feel like it’s an ongoing issue. Don’t play on your phone while taking a stroll or zone out behind the wheel. Instead, keep an eye out for things that are out of place. Make note of pedestrians you pass, especially if someone pops up repeatedly. Look for cars making all the same turns you’re making.

  • Mix Things Up

People make wrong turns all the time, but it’s rare for two people to make the same wrong turn at the same time. If you sense someone’s following you, try a short detour. Turn away from your destination, and then double back. This works as well on foot as it does in the car. If a potential stalker mimics your maneuver, your suspicions may be warranted. If this happens, head to a public place or police station.

  • Go Where the People Are

Instead of walking home, go into a busy coffee shop. If you’re in your car, drive to a full parking lot, like one at a mall or large shopping center, and go shopping. Crowds can help deter stalkers from continuing to follow you or approaching you, as there are too many witnesses around. If you return to your car, make sure you aren’t walking alone. Speak with a security guard and ask them to walk you to your car. Be sure to check inside and under the car before you get in and always keep your doors locked.

  • Break Out Your Phone

There are several apps build specifically for personal safety, like bSafe or Canopy. Both offer a host of personal safety features and are available for Android and iOS. You can alert authorities with these apps if you’re in trouble, so they’re great tools to have on your phone.

Kitestring is another excellent mobile tool. Kitestring is an SMS-based service that gives you a simple way to set up automated check-ins, alerting a friend if you don’t respond. As there’s no app to download, it works with any SMS-enabled mobile phone.

Even if you don’t have access to a personal safety service, you can still use your phone. Call a friend or family member, tell them where you are, and stay on the phone with them until you feel comfortable.

  • Call the Police

If you feel you are in immediate danger, don’t hesitate to contact the police. Calling 999 or the non-emergency police 101 line are always options, as it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Whether you’re walking or driving and feel you’re being followed, it’s important to stay safe. Keep these tips in mind and use them to help you protect yourself from any stalkers.

Source: Safewise

4:52pm 14th March 2018

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