Police are warning school students to walk in groups, stay visible and be wary of strangers after a North Shore boy was reportedly grabbed and forced into a car while on his way to school yesterday.
The 14-year-old was grabbed in Beach Haven by a man with a distinctive dragon tattoo. The teen suffered several seizures during the incident but managed to fight off his abductor.
Now it appears police are proactively warning parents and students across Auckland to stay alert. A letter from police was forwarded to parents by the principal of Mangere Bridge School, giving safety advice on what to do when approached by strangers.
"Police advise students to walk to school in groups whenever possible, and avoid routes that are out of sight from the general public. Police strongly support schools operating walking school buses and it is recommended to utilise these facilities whenever possible."
Children approached by strangers should "decline any invitation and move away from the person and vehicle immediately", the letter said. "If possible they should seek out other students or known people and, if safe, take a note of what the person looks like, a description of the vehicle and the registration number."
They should report the incident immediately and write down details while the memory is fresh. Any information - even if vague - could be useful, police said.
Detective Senior Sergeant James Bothamley, of North Shore police, said the 14-year-old boy was walking along Lancaster Rd, in the Auckland suburb of Beach Haven, about 8am when he was approached by a man.
"He has described being approached by a man aged in his 60s, with a tattoo on his face, being grabbed by the man and put into his car, but managing to fight him off and run away."
The "distinctive" tattoo was described by the boy as "a dragon; the dragon's mouth was over the man's mouth and the body of the dragon went from his left ear, across his cheek to his mouth."
The boy is thought to have suffered several seizures "during this time", Bothamley said.
Anyone who saw a teen boy in uniform walking on Lancaster Rd and looking unwell, and who may have stopped to help him, should contact North Shore police.
Tattooists who may have recently tattooed a man with a tattoo of the description given by the boy are also asked to get in touch.
North Shore CIB can be contacted on (09) 477 5261.
The boy would be interviewed in the next few days by specialist child interviewers, and the community could be reassured police are taking the matter seriously, Bothamley said.
"Until this interview has occurred and we have established a fuller picture of the circumstances, we are unable to comment further."