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Police Close Case on Man Who Approached Young Girl

Police are able to track down the owner of the tan Ford Taurus who told a 10-year-old he was looking for a lost dog.

investigators successfully tracked down the driver of a tan Ford Taurus who approached a 10-year-old girl Friday evening claiming to be looking for a lost dog.

The incident took place near Green Street and the girl and her father reported it to police on Saturday.

According to , the investigation revealed that the man was, in fact, looking for a dog that was owned by a relative and had been last seen in the Silver Lake area.

The case has now been closed, said Sheehan.

According to information in the Tewksbury Police log, the incident took place between 6:30 and 7 p.m. on Sept. 7. According to the original police log entry, the girl told police that the man approached her in his vehicle, said he was looking for a dog and tried to get her to get into the car.

However, according to Sheehan, the man had actually asked the girl to just keep a lookout for the dog. The man then drove away.

The police canvassed the neighborhood over the next few days and, based on the description of the vehicle provided by the girl, they were able to track down the car and the driver and conduct an interview that revealed the misunderstanding.

denise September 13, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Unfortunealy it is the bad people in the world that mess it up for the well meaning people! The lost dog routine is classic for a child preditor...better to be safe than sorry...
Your full name September 13, 2012 at 03:36 PM
BTW, even The Center for Missing and Exploited Children says it is time to retire the "Stranger Danger" mentality. It does more harm than good to teach kids to be scared of everyone. http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/servlet/NewsEventServlet?LanguageCountry=en_US&PageId=2034
Comment September 13, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Your Full Name - You believe we are stupid and foolish for telling our kids not to talk to strange men in cars who ask for help looking for their lost puppy? I hope you never have to look back in hindsight and say "If I only warned her".. The parent of this child wasn't saying that on the day her child was approached. During teaching your children about strangers, you also teach them about what to do and who to seek out if they are in trouble. When my children were small they were taught if for some odd reason they got separated, say in the Mall, to seek out a security/police officer and if they couldn't find one, pick a mother with a child in a stroller or other small kids. Take a stroll through the Missing and Exploited children website - it will knock you off your pedestal.
Comment September 13, 2012 at 03:43 PM
You are warping what they are saying.. they are not saying to NOT warn your kids, but to explain it better... from their website: 68% involved the suspect driving a vehicle; and 84% involved a child who did something proactive to escape the would-be abductor including walking, running, or pulling away; yelling; kicking; attracting attention; and/or otherwise resisting. The analysis also revealed the five most common tricks used by individuals attempting to abduct a child included offering a child a ride, offering the child candy or sweets, showing the child an animal or ASKING FOR HELP FINDING AN ANIMAL, offering the child money, and asking the child for directions. So this guy fit in with the 68% of abductions AND inadvertently used one of the five most common tricks. This parent taught her child well!
Your full name September 13, 2012 at 04:07 PM
You are giving me stats on IF this was an abductor not the odds of him BEING an abductor. Child crime statistics: http://www.freerangekids.com/crime-statistics/ Life has risk and rewards. People need a healthy perspective. A kid is far more likely to die in their parent's car, in a car accident, but people still take that risk to put them in the car every day. Stop seeing the worst case scenario as the most likely scenario.
denise September 13, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Sorry...but i will be safe...not sorry...
Comment September 13, 2012 at 04:37 PM
So what would you have wanted your child to do in this actual scenario that happened?
Your full name September 13, 2012 at 04:38 PM
"There's a certain blindness that comes from worst-case thinking. An extension of the precautionary principle, it involves imagining the worst possible outcome and then acting as if it were a certainty. It substitutes imagination for thinking, speculation for risk analysis, and fear for reason. It fosters powerlessness and vulnerability and magnifies social paralysis. http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2010/05/worst-case_thin.html?nc=22#comment-436589
Comment September 13, 2012 at 04:41 PM
That isn't answering the question - what would YOU expect your 10 year old daughter to do in this situation that happened?
Your full name September 13, 2012 at 04:52 PM
At this stage, my kids plays outside with friends, not alone. If a stranger asked if them if they had seen his dog, I would expect them to say yes or no. My kids knows not to approach strangers' cars, they know not to get into a car with a stranger. I think this kid did great... she's 10 for goodness sakes! I'm not doubting the actions of the child, the parents or the cops for following up on her story. I'm debating the fear-mongers on this comment thread that act as if she just dodged a bullet and the dog owner is a creepy lunatic.
Comment September 13, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Why do your kids know not to approach or get into a strangers car? Perhaps you have mentioned the potential dangerousness of the situation? Do your kids only get to play outside with friends and have to be shuttered inside when there is no one else to play with outside? See where I'm going with this?? Those of us commenting on this thread were commenting on how irresponsible it was of the guy who lost his dog to approach a child with this tried and true, well known ploy that is commonly used by abductors when it is an actual abduction situation. (Notice the other statistic of 84% of kids who get away from an abductor by doing what they were taught and walked/ran/fought to get away). AND we were applauding the good job the parent did in teaching their child what to do. I agree to elaborate on your comment of it being foolish and ridiculous to teach the kids NEVER to talk to strangers because if they NEVER spoke to people they don't know, they'd never meet anyone new. I do not feel this was an overreaction by the child, the parent nor the police. And who knows? Maybe she did dodge a bullet...
Concerned Parent September 13, 2012 at 05:10 PM
I am glad that some people in this town are reasonable. You do not have to be afraid of every person you see, every fake deer in someone's lawn. This man did not ask the child to get in his car, simply if she had seen his dog. She did the right thing, maybe exaggerated a bit, because she was scared. I am teaching my kids the same thing, do not get in a car with strangers. You do not have to be terrified of the world. That stress is more likely to kill you and your child than a stranger.
Joe L September 13, 2012 at 05:39 PM
I have a question. The original article stated that the man asked the little girl to get in the car to go look for the dog with him. Where did this come from? Did the girl lie to her parents? Or did the parents misinterpret what their daughter had just encountered? Or is someone else not telling the truth? Please don't read into this that I think the potential victim is wrong. Just wondering how something innocent, even though suspicious, got the original story.
denise September 13, 2012 at 06:11 PM
I think the girl got scared...she is 10 and was approached by a stranger. I say Kudos to the girl, the parents, and the police...and a lesson learned to the gentleman...
Your full name September 13, 2012 at 06:18 PM
It's not irresponsible to look for a loose dog, and it's not a ploy if you are actually missing a dog! If the owner wasn't actively looking for the dog, people would be ranting about how he is recklessly endangering kids by letting the dog run free where children are playing. Kids today have a 1 in 3 chance of becoming obese and a 1 in 4 chance of developing an anxiety disorder. The real tragedy to this event is this girl, who is old enough to play outside alone, and did everything right, will probably not play outside for a while because of the fear of public opinion. And this guy who did nothing wrong will be less likely to ask a stranger for help, smile or say hello to another kid lest he be branded a pervert.
Concerned Parent September 13, 2012 at 06:30 PM
I agree Joe L.
Comment September 13, 2012 at 06:36 PM
What is your point with obesity stats? She's suddenly going to be an ice cream addict because she was smart enough to tell her parent a strange man in a car approached her asking about his lost dog?? Seriously - what would YOU think if your kid said that to you? Of course you would have it checked out. You don't see her plastered on Channel 7 for crying out loud - I'm sure they quietly addressed the issue and until it showed up on the police blog, no one knew about it. sounds like they all handled it correctly - ask first, shoot later. The guy hopefully learned a lesson. It isn't irresponsible to look for a loose dog. it IS irresponsible to address a 10 year old girl playing on the street alone. It just happened that he fit the profile of a scenario that intelligent parents address with their kids with regards to their personal safety. Really, you think the girl is going to be traumatized due to public opinion? Wow.
SD From T-Bury September 13, 2012 at 06:50 PM
You are correct that it's not irresponsible to look for the dog. Nobody is villifying this guy. He did nothing (technically) wrong. I think you are missing the point. I think in retrospect he'd want to approach his problem differently. It was an innocent mistake and the little girl, parents and police did the right thing. As a parent, I appreciate them being on top of it.
Melissa Gleaton September 13, 2012 at 08:20 PM
SD - they ARE villifying this guy... According to what the police have now stated, the guy said, "did you see a brown dog run by here?". Not illegal. Not wrong. Not warranting villification. Your Full Name doesn't consider "Speaking" to be threatening, any more than smiling or saying hello. And I tend to agree. He didn't entice the child. He didn't invite the child to come with him. He did nothing wrong. A 10 year old shouldn't be made to fear to answer the question "have you seen a brown dog run by". If nothing else, she could be taught to say, "I'm sorry, I am not supposed to talk to you". and then leave the situation. We're raising a generation of scared and untrusting people. A generation of people who can't be hugged by their teachers (who see them more than their parents do). Being smart and aware is different than being totalitarian and petrified.
Melissa Gleaton September 13, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Yeah, this guy "learned a lesson" - that he should have been born a female. Because I'm sure that if this was a woman who was driving the car (with children in it), people wouldn't have freaked out as bad.
Steevo September 13, 2012 at 08:28 PM
So for some here the bottom line is a concerned stranger should not ask for help, from a kid. And, it's best to 'teach' a child enough fear to completely misunderstand an innocent question. It seems to me there's another risk factor. I'm an adult male will all the more fear asking a kid just about anything.
Steevo September 13, 2012 at 08:29 PM
And you sure are right.
Dirk Anderson September 13, 2012 at 11:33 PM
So I am the only one that is just happy to find out that there isn't a perv driving around trying to steal a kid?
Melissa Gleaton September 14, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Dirk... I love you! No, you're not the only one!!! :-)
Joe L September 14, 2012 at 01:04 AM
You are definitely not the only one happy about that!
Bill Gilman (Editor) September 14, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Steevo I'm not sure you're wrong about this. But as a father of two grown sons, I'd much rather have them be overly cautious. I think in this situation everyone did what they were supposed to and the system worked well. The little girl followed the safety protocols she has been taught at home and in school by police. And the police, to their credit, followed through on their investigation but didnt jump to conclusions. And as a journalist, I can't begin to say how fortunate this town is to have a police department that is so open with communication.
Steevo September 14, 2012 at 11:14 AM
I give the police credit too Bill :) I'm not sure you're wrong either but I'm motivated to point out the other side because it's obvious some people really don't care and that's wrong. There's a lot I could say here and I know I'm not alone but I'll just point out, that man is very fortunate she came to her senses and with a conscience. We have a society now where the charge of sexual abuse can easily become guilt before proven innocent.
Guest September 14, 2012 at 01:09 PM
I am also thrilled to find out it was an innocent situation. I give all involved in the investigation and the parents kudos for following the right steps. I am also very sorry that an innocent question got so blown out of proportion because of all the evil people that walk this Earth with us. What a sad situation that our children have to live like this, and you simply can't ask a question about a missing dog. What has our world come to? P.S. Has the dog been found? Or has a predator gotten him? I sincerely hope the dog is home safe and sound.
Scot Sutherland September 14, 2012 at 05:12 PM
This situation clearly illustrates why people should not own dogs. Dogs are God's creatures, and should be in the wild where they belong.
JoeC September 17, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Dave I agree with you this guys only crime was being a man looking for his dog. Where were the parents? I never speak to or even say hi to kids in my neighborhood as it would be viewed today as a crime.

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