Oaklands school families notified after alleged luring incidents

Victoria elementary school on moderate alert following separate reports

Oaklands elementary officials are reminding parents to speak with their children about street safety after two separate alleged luring incidents involving young female students.

The incidents, said to have happened May 15 and 17, both involved reports of a man in a vehicle motioning for the children to come towards them. Both girls told school principal Mike Phelan.

The incidents were said to have happened around 8:30 a.m. Descriptions of the men differed, as did the vehicles identified – a black convertible on Tuesday and a van on Thursday1.

Phelan didn’t disclose whether the girls were approached on the way to school, located at 2827 Belmont Ave., or on school grounds.

“Our detectives are investigating these two separate incidents as suspicious,” Victoria police spokesperson Const. Mike Russell said Friday, adding police are not issuing a public warning in the wake of the allegations. “We don’t have enough evidence to confirm or dispel an ‘attempted abduction.'”

Still, the girls who reported the incidents did the right thing, he said.

Parents and guardians of children at the school were promptly notified.

“I don’t know if I would classify what we’re telling parents as a public warning,” Phelan said. “What we’re doing is working with our community and saying, ‘It never hurts to be vigilant and it never hurts to talk to your children about how they conduct themselves in public when they’re walking to school.'”

The school does not want to alarm parents, he said, but is recommending they remind their children to tell school officials right away if they encounter a stranger. Children are also encouraged to walk to and from school in groups or with a trusted adult.

“It’s about the balance between not creating anxiety, versus keeping people aware as much as possible,” Phelan said of his message to parents.

emccracken@vicnews.com