A concerned parent stopped by The Gazette office and stated that a white male, approximately 40-50 years old, driving a white, rusty pickup truck asked her two young sons if they wanted a ride when they got off the school bus last Wednesday afternoon in the area between Tift County High School and Tift Avenue.
The woman, who would like to remain anonymous, said her children fortunately said no and ran into the house.
She stated that her sons waited until the day after to tell her and her husband about the incident.
“I don’t think they understood the gravity of the situation at the time,” she said.
The woman stated that she and her husband have discussed situations such as this with their children. She said when her sons told her about the incident, her “heart fell out.”
She stated that she immediately contacted the police and an officer came to the house.
“Unfortunately, you have to teach your kids there are bad people out there. It’s sad,” the woman said. “I just want to let the public know.”
According to the Tifton Police Department, a special patrol of the area was issued by the officer who took the report.
In an e-mail, Lt. Lee Dunston provided the following tips for parents:
• It is imperative that parents make sure that their children know not to talk to strangers, not to be lured close to strangers by candy/gifts, etc.
• If children are forced to walk to and from school, it would be best if arrangements are made for several to be in a group, possibly with older children.
• Children could be taught that if faced with a situation like this, they should look for and go toward any group of people, especially adults, who might can help them. They may be strangers as well, but they are less likely to victimize the child than the predator apparently trolling for victims.
• Any such activity should be reported to law enforcement as soon as possible so that if there is someone looking to take a child, officers will have the opportunity to deal with that person.
To contact reporter Latasha Everson, call 382-4321.