Police are searching for a man who allegedly tried to entice a girl into a white cargo van in Pitman, N.J. Monday afternoon.
The 11-year-old girl was walking by Pitman Middle School on East Holly Avenue at about 3:20 when the van pulled up next to her and the man inside asked her if she needed a ride and told her to get into the van, according to the Gloucester County Times.
"The gentleman allegedly... said that he knew her and asked her if she wanted a ride and then told her to get into the van," Pitman Police Chief Robert Zimmerman said.
The incident happened just block away from a police officer investigating another incident, cops said.
Police described the van driver as a white man in his 50s who is balding.
While police are telling residents not to panic, they want parents to talk to their children about the dangers.
“Police will be out in full force and will be aggressively patrolling our schools and surrounding areas,” Zimmerman said in a statement, according to the Times.
On Tuesday Pitman Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick McAleer released the following statement to families in the district:
...I wanted to let you know that I was informed of the details by Police Chief Zimmerman yesterday evening, and I asked building administrators to share this information with school staff members prior to the start of school this morning. School staff members will be extra vigilant during pick up/drop off times, as well as during any outside activities such as recess, outdoor physical education classes (if scheduled), etc. Teachers at the elementary and middle schools in particular have been asked to remind students to take proactive steps in staying safe, such as walking home in groups. I imagine that many of you will also elect to pick your children up from school at dismissal time. Chief Zimmerman had assured me that the police department will coordinate their patrols around school dismissals to ensure that students are safe during their trip home from school.
As parents, I would encourage you to share your concerns with your child in a way that empowers them to keep themselves safe and exercise caution... Reassure your child that many people -- you, their principal and teachers, the police, etc. -- are looking out for them and are working very hard to protect them. Encourage them to share their concerns and questions with you, or with a teacher or counselor at school.
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call borough police at 856-589-3500.