MONTICELLO -- Children are the targets of suspicious behavior. On the first day of school, a couple in a truck tried to lure a group of girls to get in, but they didn't fall for it. It happened just a block from Lincoln Elementary school.
Wednesday, parents said "stranger danger" is a lesson they plan to keep repeating. Cynthia Huisinga's grandson started kindergarten Tuesday, but the alarming news shook up his first day.
"It's extremely scary to think that someone is driving around trying to take your children," says Huisinga.
Just blocks from where these 5-, 6- and 7-years old kids learn, two people in a red truck approached four middle school girls, asking for help finding a lost puppy.
"I've let them know there's not a single adult in this world that needs a 6-year old to help them find a puppy," says Jenny Michulik.
"I actually said to him, 'what would you do if somebody came up and said please help me I've lost my puppy and i cant find it? I know, run away, yell help, help, help,'" says Huisinga.
That's basically what the girls did. Police say they got away from the car and called their principal on a cell phone.
"The girls were informed later they could have called 911. They hadn't really thought about that at the time but they did the right thing. They did not approached the truck and left," says Police Chief Michael Galloway.
Monticello parents got the message immediately. The district sent emails and made phone calls letting them know to hold onto their little ones a bit tighter.
"Messages we sent were not to say, 'hey there's someone out there trying to attack your children,' but to just inform them," says Superintendent Vic Zimmerman.
Parents say they plan to remind kids to not only run away, but remember the details.
"I think we need to teach our kids to eyeball the license plates a little bit; get a few digits off of there," says Michulik.
Police say the vehicle is a red pickup truck with a red topper. The man and woman are both white and in their 20's. The woman who was driving had purple streaks in her hair.
Authorities say they put surrounding counties on alert as well. They'll continue to patrol when school starts and ends.
Original: 6:05 pm,
MONTICELLO -- The community is on alert after a suspicious couple tries to lure children into their car. The incident happened Tuesday after the first day of school, just a block away from Lincoln Elementary at Lincoln and Independence.
Some middle school girls were walking when two people in a car stopped to ask a question. Police say the driver asked for help finding a lost dog. It's one of those questions which screams "stranger danger."
The girls took off running. One used a cellphone to call the principal. The principal called police. Wednesday, parents in the district got an email and phone call about the incident. It's standard procedure for something like this.
"Our communities and our parents are always keeping their eyes open and paying attention. That's something we are proud of, so when I sent the message out to our parents, it put them on alert."
The suspects are described as a white man and woman, both in their 20's. The woman has purple streaks in her hair. They were driving a red pick-up truck.
This is the fourth attempted abduction in three months. The first two were in Urbana in May. Police made an arrest in one of those. Bennie Hays is accused of using a puppy to lure girls into a car.
The other was Monday in Paxton. A young girl claims a man asked her to get into the car as she was walking home from the pool. Police are still searching for that suspect.
Police say the incidents aren't related.
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