Child abductions reminder to teach kids of stranger danger

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SALT LAKE CITY — On average, 2,185 children are reported missing every day in the U.S., and this week, three examples throughout the Mountain West have ended very differently.

In Colorado Friday, investigators identified a body as 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway. She was last seen alive a week ago while walking to school, and a couple days ago, she was found north of by a trash crew in an open space.

"Our focus has changed from a search for Jessica to a mission of justice for Jessica," said Westminster Police Department Chief Lee Birk.

Preventing abductions
  • Keep custody documents in order.
  • Every 6 months, have ID-like photos taken of your children, and have them fingerprinted.
  • Keep medical and dental records up-to-date.
  • Be aware of your child's Internet activities, especially those that may compromise personal information.
  • Set boundaries about where they're allowed to go and supervise them in public.
  • Never leave kids alone in a car or stroller.
  • Choose caregivers carefully and discuss transportation arrangements with your children beforehand.
  • Avoid putting their names on clothing, as children are more likely to trust adults who know their names.
Info: Kids Health

That story ended in tragedy, but in Utah, near Tooele, 10-year-old Olivia Lowery avoided a possible abduction. After leaving a friend's house, she was approached by a man in a car who asked her to get in. She turned and ran back toward her friend's house, a move, police say, could have saved her life.

"In this case, the little girl was well taught. She ran. She recognized the danger, and left," said Tooele Police Department Lt. Paul Wimmer.

Meantime, in Wyoming, the FBI is looking for a suspect related to another abduction of an 11-year-old girl. The suspect asked that little girl if she would help him find a missing pet.

Wyoming police are looking for what they believe to be a 2004 or 2005 white Toyota 4-Runner with a rooftop cargo carrier.

In each case, no suspect has been arrested. And of the 800,000 children reported missing every year, about a quarter of them are victims of an abduction. About 100 children are taken, moved, sexually assaulted and killed across the country annually.

Police, like Wimmer, caution parents to teach children how to appropriately react when approached by a stranger.

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Andrew Wimmer


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