Oak Park police are asking parents and school officials to talk with their children again about what to do if they are approached by a stranger.
Police said in a letter to area school officials today, that they are asking them to talk with children after receiving three reports of individuals trying to talk with young teens.
A 13-year-old girl reported twice that the same man had attempted to talk to her recently while walking down Harlem Avenue near Chicago Avenue. In another incident, a 13-year-old boy reported that a woman had offered to give him a ride.
Police said the first incident occurred Tuesday, Dec. 18 as the girl was walking on the east side of Harlem Avenue and approached Chicago Avenue. She said a man described as about 30 years old, black, of medium build and about six feet tall walked passed her and made a suggestive comment.
She reported the man again today after seeing him as she was walking down Harlem Avenue near Paulina. The girl told police that he motioned her towards a white van—possibly a taxi—as he drove past her.
In another report today, a 13-year-old boy told police that a woman in a silver Dodge minivan stopped in traffic and offered him a ride. The boy said he was walking west of Adams Street near Ridgeland Avenue. The woman was described as between 40-45 years old, black, with straight hair and wearing a black sweater.
Additionally, police praised the teens for ignoring the comments, walking away and later reporting them.
“Cases like this are traumatic to the victims even though all that happened was a few words were spoken and insinuations made,” said Oak Park Police Chief Rick C. Tanksley in the letter. “The best defense is to do exactly what these teens did—walk away and then report it. That‘s why it is so important to teach our children how to respond appropriately.”
Many in the community are still on edge after a Maywood man was charged with attempting to abduct two students in Oak Park on Dec. 6. Chicago police also charged the man, Shawn Stubblefield, with kidnapping and sexual assault relating to incidents that occurred in the nearby Austin neighborhood of Chicago.