Crime - Sacto 911

Schools warn of possible kidnap attempts. District, cops find no threat

Two Sacramento City Unified elementary schools put parents on alert after separate incidents of adults in white vans offering rides to students last week, but police are saying no imminent threat exists.

A white man in his 50s allegedly approached two Hollywood Park Elementary School students Friday afternoon and asked if they wanted a ride home in his white Dodge Ram van, described as “very old” in a letter principal Tenley Luke sent to parents on Monday.

Letter sent Monday to Hollywood Park Elementary School parents.

The mother of the first- and fourth-grade students then drove up, and the children piled into her car while she wrote down the van’s license plate number and made a police report.

The letter references another recent case of someone in a white van offering a fifth-grade girl a lift from a parking lot behind Leonardo da Vinci K-8 School. A woman in her 50s or 60s had asked the student if she wanted a ride to the driver’s home following basketball practice at about 6:45 p.m. on Oct. 24, Leonardo da Vinci principal Devon Davis wrote in a letter to parents. The student declined but did not identify the license plate number.

“This seems too coincidental to be taken lightly,” Luke wrote in her letter.

But Sacramento City Unified spokesman Alex Barrios said there was no evidence of a legitimate cause for concern. Neighbors confirmed the man associated with the license plate number from the Friday incident had been looking for a lost dog, Barrios said, and the woman who called in the vehicle had yet to provide a statement to law enforcement despite repeated attempts to contact her.

The Sacramento Police Department concluded its investigation Monday night having found as much, department spokesman Eddie Macaulay said. Police devoted more units to the neighborhoods around the affected campuses before returning to normal patrol Tuesday.

“There’s a notice that says, ‘Hey, this what’s going on,’ but no one researched it,” Barrios said. “Our principal (Luke) received secondhand information and out of concern for her students tried to alert the community that something was going on ... but there doesn’t appear to be a credible threat.”

In May, two men in a white Kia Sedona van attempted to kidnap a boy walking to Leataata Floyd Elementary School near Third Street and Seavey Circle. The student broke free as the passenger tried to pull him inside the van, though the suspects fled before police could arrive.

Benjy Egel: 916-321-1052, @BenjyEgel