Stranger danger cases startle parents in St. Louis County

ST. LOUIS COUNTY – Police are working together to get to the bottom of at least seven stranger danger cases in St. Louis County since the beginning of the school year. At least a half-dozen police departments met last week to talk about the rash of reports from school children.

The latest incidents happened on Friday. One in Overland and the other in an unincorporated area of St. Louis County near Creve Coeur. Five of the seven reports happened in the Pattonville and Ritenour school districts. The school districts sent out emails to make parents aware of the latest reports last week.

Overland Police said there have been three reports of stranger danger in the city since August. Michael Laws, the Chief of Police at Overland Police Department, said it was important to have the meeting, so they don’t miss any important detail.

“We don’t want it to fall through the cracks because it's one agency versus another agency," he said.

The stranger danger case near Creve Coeur happened to Trish Secoy-Fontana’s daughter. She’s a sixth grader at Pattonville Heights in the Pattonville School District. She described what her daughter told her after a man drove up next to her on her walk home from school.

"Rolled down the window said 'It's cold outside, do you want a ride home?'" Secoy-Fontana said.

It was a scary incident for her 11-year-old daughter, who ran home terrified and out of breath.

"He was pacing her as she sped up,” she said. “He was still driving on this side of the street still talking to her, still trying to get her into the car…She said as soon as she started running, he sped off."

Secoy-Fontana has since put up flyers around the neighborhood to get the word out. She said her area is kid-friendly. There’s a park nearby, where kids play soccer, among other activities. And some of the time the kids would play alone. Now, because of the latest incident, she said that’s going to change.

“We never worried about it before,” she said. “It's going to take the parents some time to get comfortable with that again.”

At the police meeting last week, each department shared notes to see if there were any patterns. So, far no concrete ones. But, Chief Laws said each department is taking every report very seriously.

"We're increasing patrols around the schools, watching the kids at the time frames when they are walking to and from [the bus stop]," he said.

Secoy-Fontana wants parents to talk to their kids and also keep an eye on other children.

"It really does take a village," she said.

Police describe the man in the incident near Creve Coeur as an Asian man in his late 50s, driving a four-door sedan with scratches on the side door. The car had no license plate.

A female student at Husky Academy reported a case of stranger danger in Overland on Friday. She described a man in his 30s, driving a white van. The incident happened near Midland Avenue and Woodson Road.

© 2017 KSDK

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