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Duluth Police Discuss Safety After Attempted Abduction

The attempted abduction took place on the corner of 52nd and Avondale in the Lakeside neighborhood Tuesday afternoon. Extra police have been patrolling the area since. The attempted abduction took place on the corner of 52nd and Avondale in the Lakeside neighborhood Tuesday afternoon. Extra police have been patrolling the area since. | 

Updated: February 17, 2020 05:14 PM

Duluth Police increased patrols in the Lakeside neighborhood this week following the report of a masked man trying to lure a child into a blue prius with the promise of a puppy Tuesday. Fortunately, the child knew not to get into the stranger's car and is safe, but this close call has prompted police to discuss children's safety.

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“From the moment they're able to go out and play in the yard, parents need to have the conversations with their children to be alert, to be aware of their surroundings, have a plan and mentally prepare in case something like this happens,” James Forsyth, West Community Officer said.

According to Forsyth, getting to know neighbors and identifying houses that kids can run to if they need to is an important part of this plan. Additionally, teaching kids to scream, kick and call 9-1-1 if they have a cell phone is imperative.

“As cops, we're trained that if it doesn't feel right or if it looks funny, it probably is and the same thing can be taught to children,” Forsyth said. “My oldest child just started kindergarten and we've had those conversations with him."

Though instances like this are rare, Forsyth says they are a possibility anywhere at any time. Therefore, it is good to be prepared.

“If you don’t ever think about it, you have a tendency to freeze up when something like this could happen or a child could be confronted with something like this. Make sure that they have a plan in place and they are able to follow that plan,” Forsyth said.

Working closely with parents, care givers and authorities to keep children safe is Tracie Clanaugh, the executive director at First Witness Child Advocacy Center.

“Even though this is a rare situation, it is still scary and I want people to feel like they can feel that fear that is natural when something like this occurs in a community,” Clanaugh said.

Clanaugh and her colleagues offer parents and care givers support in formulating their plan of action.

“We need to talk to each other. We need to have our community be a part of our lives. We need to have kids feeling empowered, kids feeling like they can be a part of making that safety plan so that they feel like yep, I am safe, I'm a part of my family's plan, I'm a part of my community's plan, I can be a part of the solution here,” Clanaugh said.

Authorities say that Tuesday's incident remains under investigation. WDIO will keep viewers up to date on new developments as they come.

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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