Said he wanted to take them to a parade
The St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office was called to investigate two suspicious incidents on Mardi Gras that mirrored attempted kidnappings.
One of the incidents has been cleared as a misunderstanding, but authorities are still investigating one where two young children were approached by a man who said he wanted to take them to a parade.
The first incident occurred at 2 p.m. when deputies were told that an older man in a white van asked three children to help him find his missing dog. The children, who were walking in the 800 block of Barber Road in Paradis, also said the man asked them if they needed a ride.
The children declined to get in the vehicle and reported the incident to their parents.
“We got a license plate number and we were able to identify and make contact with this guy,” Sheriff Greg Champagne said. “We were able to confirm through witnesses that he and his girlfriend were indeed riding around looking for their dog. Several people saw him yelling out his window ‘lets go for a ride’ because that is what he did to get his dog’s attention. The kids thought he meant for them to go for a ride.”
Champagne said deputies spoke with the man and his girlfriend that day and also interviewed them the following morning at the Sheriff’s Office.
“We have ruled out any type of improper behavior in this case,” he said.
Four hours later, the Sheriff’s Office received a call that an older man with white hair had asked two young children if they wanted to ride with him to a parade. The two children, who were in the 800 block of Collier Drive in old Luling, declined the invitation and contacted their parents.
“They indicated that the man was somewhat persistent in his offer for them to get into his vehicle,” Champagne said. “The two witnesses were fairly young children, so the description we got was a little vague and we didn’t get a license plate number.”
In fact, the only information authorities received about the vehicle was that it was an older-model white car.
“We were unable to find the man in Luling and got no other reports from that area,” Champagne said.
The investigation remains open and anyone having information on this incident or similar ones is urged to contact Lt. Renee Kinler at 985-783-1135 or call the 911 center at 985-783-6807.
Champagne said that the important thing is that all of the children in each of these incidents notified their parents of what they thought was suspicious behavior.
“Now is a good time to remind children about encounters with strangers,” Champagne said. “A child should consider everyone outside of their immediate family members a stranger unless their parents say differently.”