POULSBO — The Poulsbo Police Department is investigating a suspected child luring that occurred at Poulsbo Middle School on Jan. 10.
The suspected incident occurred just before 4 p.m. in the parking lot behind Poulsbo Middle School gymnasium, where two elementary school third- and fourth-graders say they were approached by an adult white male in a parked vehicle.
The students told police that the man, who stayed in his vehicle, asked them where to find the middle school and then asked the location of other businesses. When the girls said they didn’t know, he asked them if they’d like to “take a ride,” they reported.
The students walked away and when they looked back the vehicle was leaving, the girls reported. There were no adult witnesses.
According to Poulsbo Police, the vehicle appears to be a late 1990s model Mitsubishi Montero. The male is described as an adult white male, in his 30s with short, dark hair and a possible goatee.
Poulsbo Deputy Police Chief Andy Pate said Jan. 12 that officers will continue to investigate and plan to have a presence at the school beyond just the school resource officer monitoring the parking lots.
“We plan to do that as long as we can,” Pate said. “We’re still in process of reviewing some videos. But if anyone sees a vehicle that matches that description, we’d love to hear about it.”
The North Kitsap School District sent an e-mail to parents and staff members of Poulsbo elementary, middle and high schools just after noon on Jan. 11, informing them of the incident.
“Student safety is our primary concern,” school district spokeswoman Jenn Markaryan said. “This incident serves as a reminder for students to practice safety measures while going to and from school.”
Markaryan said district elementary schools teach a skills program called “Second Step” that addresses student assertiveness and safety.
“Elementary school counselors also provide lessons to students regarding personal safety,” she said.
The school district and police department remind students to stay safe by walking in groups or pairs to and from school, never accept a ride from a stranger, keep a safe distance from strangers, and think of a direction to run if needed. Run to a safe place, i.e. school, church, store, etc. and shout and yell as loud as you can. Never give your name or address to people you do not know (especially on the Internet), and always let your parents know where you are and to take the same route to and from school each day.
“It is a very rare situation for this type of incident, and often times it turns out to be something completely innocent,” Pate said. “But we don’t know at this point. We’re doing our best to try to locate this vehicle.”
Pate reminds, “It’s better safe than sorry.”
Anyone with information should call Officer Shawn Ziemann, 360-779-3113.