Attempted Child abduction at Concerts in the Park

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By an edhat subscriber

Last Thursday (7/6/17), my son and I went to the Concert in the Park, and he was almost abducted! Please watch your kids closely, especially in large group settings. This only lasted a few minutes, but had I not been right there, I don't even want to think what could have happened.

The details: We love the concerts at Chase Palm, and look forward to them as our summer rite of passage. We usually bring dinner, some chairs, and sit on the grass in the playground area so that we can watch our kids. Last night, it was just my son and I. He finished dinner and went to play. I noticed a man started talking to him. It is not unusual for our son to talk to people, he is very social. So, we watch him like a hawk.

I looked down to eat something and a minute later looked up to see them move from the standing slide portion of the pirate ship, to the bouncy bridge. I watched as the man got off the bridge and my son did, too. Then they started walking toward the back of the playground, the area by the bell, where the kids climb on top of the cement structure. They turned and headed toward the walkway between the whale and the playground. At this point, I had grabbed my purse and was running toward my son, my tunnel vision and laser focus on my son. At the same time, I knew I had to be calm and get him away from this person. I looked at my son, who was still smiling and talking to this person, and said that I needed him to come to me I had to ask him something. He immediately came to me, and I bear hugged him and whispered that he was almost abducted and that we had to leave right then.

We walked a few steps to our chair/dinner and started gathering things up. The man came around the back side of the iron gate, between the roundabout parking area and the playground and asked my son if he was leaving. We made no contact, and started to leave. When I saw the man go back to the park, I found a park ranger and explained what had happened. We looked for the man for quite some time, and the ranger called for a police officer. This was the first time that I had not seen any police presence during the concert. It took at least 20 minutes for us to get the officer over to the park to take a report.

From my son's perspective, this man came up and asked if he was someone else. When he said no, the man continued talking with him. The man talked about doing some kind of prank with a freaky clown and a fake gun. My son didn't even realize they were walking somewhere, just that they were going to do a prank, and surely had no idea where they were headed. He said the man told him that he was 16. The man looked around early 20s, but seemed to be trying to look younger.

He's about 5'8" or 5'9", thin build was wearing long, royal blue basketball shorts and a tee shirt. He had glasses with thick black rims. He had blondish hair, with a crew cut, and looked to be a bit spiked. My son said he had gray eyes and his voice was a bit squeaky. Again, this happened over only a few minutes and with many other parents at the playground! It was extremely subtle, but I am convinced that the man knew what he was doing and was executing a plan. I guess he assumed that since my son was old enough to play by himself, and didn't have a helicopter parent, that we were in the big scrum of people at the concert. We always sit on the grass in the playground, so I was right there. I was watching the entire time. 

So, please always watch your kids, and if you see something that doesn't look right speak up, even if it is not your kid. I have called and spoke to the police watch commander. As of this Monday, no report had been filed, yet.

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SB1 Jul 13, 2017 11:17 AM
Attempted Child abduction at Concerts in the Park

Yes, I have posted this on Nextdoor and have looked at Meagan's Law websites. I was encouraged to send my account to Edhat because I do not believe the police are taking this seriously enough. I stand ready to work with any law enforcement officer/agency. They have my contact information and know how to contact me. In response to the post by 3776, not only are you in denial but you ARE minimizing what happened. In Gavin de Becker’s book Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe and Parents Sane, he says, “Intuition is knowing without knowing why, knowing even when you can’t see the evidence. Denial is choosing NOT to know something even when the evidence is obvious.” I do not need to stop the man and ask what his specific intentions were to know he was luring my child to be abused. I prevented my child from BECOMING a statistic. That is all that mattered at the time! I pray that you never experience the fear that I have. I am trying get the continuous loop video to stop replaying this incident in my head. For those of you who know our family, you know that I am an intensely private person, and fiercely protective of my family. For those of you who don’t, and doubt this happened, there are no words that will convince you. I will not waste my time trying. My intent was and is to let our community know what happened so that we can collectively make our community safer. This was a wake-up call; you either heed it or you are part of the problem. You cannot prevent your kids from becoming a target, but you can help prevent them from becoming an easy victim.

a-1511449593 Jul 13, 2017 06:01 PM
Attempted Child abduction at Concerts in the Park

I understand both posts. I'm very sorry for you & yours, you are handling it wonderfully -- at least publicly. I would recommend a meeting with a counselor or meditation teacher to stop that continuous video loop!! I will commend the anonymous post about abduction statistics, just as I commend you, Mom. I would react to it as you did, but it's a valid point of view that of course doesn't matter, for good reason. Best wishes to you & yours.

mgm Jul 13, 2017 01:25 PM
Attempted Child abduction at Concerts in the Park

Wonderful response & good for you for doing what you needed to do to get your son out of a bad situation. And then being open to sharing the horrible experience, it is definitely circulating, I have seen this post shared on my FB.

Roger Jul 12, 2017 08:56 PM
Attempted Child abduction at Concerts in the Park

I thought it was me because I called the department of justice to correct them once and they really got pissed? Then they told me the city police was in control of it There is another site I checked today and did not see anyone fitting the description but there is one in there someone told me was a monster once. he could have changed his appearance many criminals do...

a-1511449593 Jul 12, 2017 08:16 PM
Attempted Child abduction at Concerts in the Park

Roger, of course it's not you, or because you accessed it often. meganslawca.gov is no longer viable. I googled "CA public register of sex offenders" and found the site. It asks you to check that you're not a bot.

a-1511449593 Jul 12, 2017 08:13 PM
Attempted Child abduction at Concerts in the Park

My sympathies, and kudos on being on top of things. I don't own a smart phone, but since most do, if anyone experiences and /or witnesses this kind of crap, take a picture.

a-1511449593 Jul 12, 2017 04:17 PM
Attempted Child abduction at Concerts in the Park

I don't mean to downplay the potential seriousness of the situation but people need to be careful with automatically jumping to "child abduction". Actual child abduction cases (by a stranger) are extremely rare ( <.01% of all missing children are actually abducted by a stranger). I don't doubt that this guy may have posed some level of risk and I wouldn't want my children interacting with him. But, it's highly unlikely that child abduction was his motivation. Kid's are more likely to be abducted and abused by people they know. Kid's need to learn to be taught to identify risky and inappropriate behavior from family and friends in addition to strangers. I say this because, these type of stories grab headlines and perpetuate fear when in the real risks are often overlooked.

mm1970 Jul 13, 2017 02:13 PM
Attempted Child abduction at Concerts in the Park

Seriously. There is no reason - no reasonable, good, innocent reason that *any* male aged 17-25 should be hanging out at a playground, talking to kids that they don't know. None. Especially on a night known to be busy like that. Even chasing my kid it's easy to lose him at that park on those nights. One of the reasons we rarely go now.

SoCalMommy Jul 12, 2017 04:53 PM
Attempted Child abduction at Concerts in the Park

As a mom, I don't think there is such thing as being too protective or too vigilant when it comes to our kids. Even if something is rare, there are still instances where it happens. And I will go to my grave making sure I have done everything I can to make sure that instance is not my child. The fact that the man lured the child away from the area is supremely disturbing. Who knows what his intentions were. Maybe he wasn't planning to abduct him, but heaven knows what else this person was/is capable of.

420722 Jul 12, 2017 03:46 PM
Attempted Child abduction at Concerts in the Park

I don't know why weirdos are so fascinated wth children. You are so calm! I would have given the guy a good beat down if it were my kid. So happy this turned out with you walking away with your kid. Could have turned out really bad since this guy was talking about guns and creepy clowns. Sounds like he would have done some really terrible things. His mind is very disturbed which is why I am all for opening the asylums back up for the obviously extremely mental people we have walking amongst us these days. What are we waiting for!?

elaz Jul 12, 2017 02:45 PM
Attempted Child abduction at Concerts in the Park

So glad that your son is safe and that you were keeping such a good eye on him! Deeply disappointed that this hasn't been broadcast widely. I second the suggestion that you post it on your own Nextdoor neighbor hood site. I will go post it on mine now.

NativeofSB Jul 12, 2017 01:12 PM
Attempted Child abduction at Concerts in the Park

Thank you for sharing your story on Edhat. As a mother and new grandmother I found your story to be quite troubling. I can't even imagine the emotions that must have run through you. Thank goodness you were keeping a close eye on your son. May I suggest your story be posted on "Nextdoor" (the neighborhood website). The word needs to be spread to parents and caregivers to be extra vigilant. I too am sorry you and your son had to experience this. You are a good mom.

Roger Jul 12, 2017 11:29 AM
Attempted Child abduction at Concerts in the Park

In the city of Santa Barbara there are registered sex offenders many are homeless because no one will rent to them. Some who are listed as transient are also in halfway and or sober living houses. Most of the registered sex offenders are child molesters, or have been arrested for annoying a child. I used to be able to access Meganslawca.gov maybe because I mentioned it so much I can no longer access the sight...WHO IS PROTECTING WHO? Is my question to the powers that be.....Was this persons intent to Abduct and molest? or Abduct, molest, and kill? I wonder why a report has not been filed? This is a very serious incident and usually any type of child incident is taken very seriously in Santa Barbara. I though I heard some kind of incident in Ship Wreck park this morning about a missing child though I was just waking up. I think and hope they found that kid by now...I think personally all sources of Media ought to broadcast a warning to parents about this incident to warn other parents of this danger. Your Essay ought to be posted at the event and in the parks all of them....I'm sorry you went through that and Thanks for being a good mother.

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