The Child Abduction/Lost Pet Lure

Recently I watched the news and there was a hauntingly familiar story being aired. A young boy was lured towards a white van by a guy who needed help looking for his lost dog.

Fortunately the boy ran off and reported it to the police, and it aired with a composite sketch of the would-be abductor. Hope they catch the lowlife who is preying on innocent children.

While watching the disturbing story my skin turned cold and my heart dropped to the floor.

Not just because I hate to hear about this kind of evil, but also because the same scenario happened to my daughter. It didn’t make the news, but it did make me completely crazy for a long period of time.

This is what happened:

My daughter was 15 – but since she is a late August birthday, all of her friends were 16 and driving. When she hung out with her friends (all screened carefully by her overprotective mom) she would sometimes get a ride home by a friend instead of having me pick her up.

This particular evening, it was still somewhat light out when her good friend Shaun dropped her off at home. Elissa had forgotten her key, and planned to ring the doorbell. For some unknown reason, Shaun forgot all of his manners and didn’t stick around to wait for Elissa to get safely in the house. Kids tend to be naive about dangers in our world.

Immediately after Shaun pulled off, Elissa was approached by a man who had a white van nearby. He had a dog with him and asked Elissa to help him with this poor little lost dog. His exact line to her was he didn’t have his glasses on and he couldn’t read the dog’s tag. He asked her to come and help him as he and the dog stood by the side of his van.

Immediately Elissa sensed something weird about the guy, but being an animal lover and  a good Samaritan, she wanted to help. She used common sense, and told the man to wait and she would get me and I would help out. She began to ring the doorbell pretty urgently, but I was at the very back of the house and didn’t get to the door quickly. She entered the house and breathlessly told me the story, wanting me to go outside and help.

We poked our heads outside just seconds later and the man, the dog, and the van were gone. We looked up and down the street both ways. Not a trace, just that quick.

That made me alarmed, and I called the police. Before this incident, neither Elissa or I had ever heard of the “lost dog” lure to get kids in a position where they could be abducted in a van.

My husband drove around the neighborhood, looking for that van or a man with the dog. They were nowhere to be found.

When the police arrived, the very experienced policeman took a report, and told us that it was a very common abduction scenario. By the grace of God, my daughter was spared because she hesitated, even though she really wasn’t truly aware she could be harmed.

The policeman gave us an “abduction” brochure for young girls with the very first warning at number one, to never go with a stranger who claims to have a lost dog.

We were all floored. There it was in black and white. Proof that my daughter could have been a victim of a crime. It was so chilling, so disturbing, that I wasn’t the same for a long, long time. My over-protectiveness went into overdrive. Shaun received a call with a major lecture and he felt truly terrible.

My husband was skeptical. He didn’t want to believe it. My daughter took some convincing too as to what “almost” happened. But I KNEW. And the thought made me insane.

This news report brought back all of my nightmares from that awful time where I spent sleepless nights replaying in my mind, what if… What if Elissa had approached the man and the dog, what if my daughter had been abducted, what if she had never come home that day – never got to ring the doorbell? What if my world had ended that day? My heart goes out to every mother who has had their child abducted and I grieve every time I hear terrible news of the sort.

Parents  – TELL your children – teens too- about this very common lure by potential abductors. Many children love animals and would want to help an animal, even if they were warned about strangers. Please, go over this scenario with your children until you are sure they would run very fast and scream for help if confronted by this.

Continue to teach your children to beware in this dangerous world of ours. And hug them very, very tightly. We live in a world of too many criminals who want to harm our children. They have created a society where we must be paranoid, vigilant, and one step ahead of them.

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