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Wise children say ‘no’ to stranger’s offer of car ride

By Seth Burkett · 340-2355

Decatur police put out an alert Tuesday on a vehicle driven by a man who recently tried to pick up children in an area of Southeast Decatur near Eastwood Elementary.

So far, a few children made the wise decision not to get into the car with a stranger.

Police received a report Monday that a red car with dark-tinted windows and a white stripe on the side pulled alongside an Eastwood Elementary student as she walked home at about 3 p.m.

A white male inside offered to give the girl a ride home, but she refused, said Lt. Chris Mathews, a police spokesman.

When she refused a further offer to use his cell phone to call someone for a ride, the man drove away, Mathews said.

Previous incident

The same thing happened Dec. 22, when a man in a vehicle matching that description stopped and offered rides to three boys near Stratford Road and Palmetto Drive Southeast. The boys also turned down rides and offers to use the man’s cell phone, Mathews said.

“It’d be a good time for parents to talk with their kids about what to do if anyone offers them a ride,” Mathews said. “Tell them not to ever get into a car with a stranger. If anyone sees a vehicle meeting that description or another suspicious vehicle, give us a call,” Mathews said.

Warning parents

Phil Hastings, director of safety for Decatur City Schools, said the principals of Eastwood and Walter Jackson elementaries sent letters home to parents, informing of them of the incidents and warning them to look out for suspicious strangers.

He also notified the remaining Decatur schools “because sometimes these type of people move from school to school.”

Hastings said the schools increased outside staff supervision before and after school. The police department is also increasing its presence.

Anyone with information can call the police confidential tip line at 340-INFO (4636), or the department’s front desk at 340-4660.

Staff Writer Bayne Hughes contributed to this report.

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