Abduction attempt info flows in

By Kiri Gillespie, Brendan Manning


The man who approached an 8-year-old girl in an attempted abduction remains at large but police say they are still receiving a lot of help from the public.

It has been three weeks since a man driving a dark vehicle tried to entice the Papamoa schoolgirl into his car on Te Okuroa Dr.

Detective Shaun Skedgewell, of Mount Maunganui police, said there had been plenty of tips phoned in following the incident.

"We have received a number of calls from members of the public and we are still conducting enquiries in terms of finding the person responsible," Mr Skedgewell said.

Following the abduction attempt, the girl's father later wrote an open letter to the "mongrel" who tried to snatch his daughter.

"This was a blatant attempt to take my child in broad daylight with no hesitation and if he felt brave enough to try once, he will most certainly try again and again until he is either caught or, God forbid, he actually succeeds," the father said.

The incident was one of several alleged abduction attempts to feature in New Zealand this month.

A 26-year-old man was remanded in custody last week charged with wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm following the suspected abduction and assault of a 9-year-old Timaru boy.

The boy was found bloodied and distressed by a river 15km from Oceanview Heights School.

South Canterbury area commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said the man was known to the child but they were not related.

A police spokeswoman emphasised that it was not a case of "stranger danger" - "an outdated, discredited and potentially dangerous concept".

"Stranger danger makes it easier for abusers known to the child - the most common source by far of abuse in New Zealand - because children think they can't possibly be strangers and therefore won't harm them.

"Furthermore, it lulls parents and caregivers into a false sense of security.

"They think that if they have told children to avoid strangers they will be keeping their children safe from abuse."

School-based safety programme Keeping Ourselves Safe was developed in conjunction with police, which, instead of concentrating on stereotypical strangers, teaches about the behaviours to avoid and report, no matter whether they come from a person unknown or familiar to the child, she said. On November 7, a Christchurch primary school boy told police he armed himself with a stick and fought off a would-be abductor who attempted to drag him down the street towards a waiting vehicle.

On the same day a man tried to abduct a young Lower Hutt woman by forcing her into his car.

Meanwhile, Auckland's North Shore was the scene of several abduction attempts last month, the worst involving a 5-year-old boy who was snatched as he walked 50m in front of his mother. Police said the boy managed to wriggle away.

On October 17, a 9-year-old North Shore girl was approached by a strange man outside her school who offered her a ride home.


Stranger danger


If walking to and from school walk in groups or with an adult.

Say no to strangers offering rides or gifts. Shout loudly and run away if they persist.

Let a grown-up you trust know about the incident.

Inform the school or police if your child is involved in an incident.

Children should be advised not to engage in conversations with strangers or tell them their names.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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