Dekalb County police are looking into a possible attempted kidnapping in the Briarcliff neighborhood near busy Lavista Road.
The parents of a 12-year-old girl told police a man in a white, four-door car approached their daughter as she walked to the Twin Lakes Swim and Tennis club on Briarlake Road.
Assistant Chief Mike Yarbrough of the DCPD's Criminal Investigations Unit said they increased patrols in the neighborhood in the last few days. Police want to help "calm the fears and the concerns of the community," Yarbrough said. "And in case there is someone out and about trying to contact these children we want to make sure we're there in time to engage with that person."
Jennie Thomas' 10-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter love going to the pool, located a few blocks from their home. Thomas now leaves work each day at lunch to drive her kids the three blocks after word spread about the stranger in the white car.
"It's not unusual story, especially in a big city like this where there's a lot of people, a lot of opportunities for people that want to do harm to children," Thomas said.
The same strange car reportedly pulled into a home's driveway where three boys were inside without parental supervision. But, the car quickly drove off.
Thomas is being proactive taking her kids to and from the pool, but also by repeatedly reminding them how to stay safe. She stresses to them to always use the buddy system. And, if a stranger approaches walk, or run, away and tell an adult.
"If they can get a vehicle description or see some numbers on the license plate that's even better. Icing on the cake Assistant Chief Yarbrough strongly advises all parents to do the same," she said. "But first priority is look out for yourself and your buddy. Never walk alone. It's scary, it's sad. But we just need to stay aware."
Yarbrough strongly advises all parents do the same.
"Children, it'd be great if we can have them walking in pairs or groups together, whether they're going to the pool or they're doing other summer activities," he explained. "Staying out of the back trails and behind buildings and the wooded areas. You want to stay in the open."
The girl and her parents are out of town. Police will interview the girl in depth about what happened once they return.
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