Community on alert after teen reports stranger's approach
New Albany police say a teenage girl and her parents did the right thing last week by telling officers about an unknown man asking her questions.
The 13-year-old girl was walking to the Columbus Jewish Day School on Dublin-Granville Road from the New Albany-Plain Local Schools campus when a man in a blue Jeep drove up and began to ask her questions, police said.
She said she noticed the man in the Jeep looking at her at 2:48 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14.
According to the police report, the man asked her, "Whose kid are you?"
The girl pointed to the Columbus Jewish Day School, and the man said, "Oh, you go there," according to the report.
The girl fled from the Jeep and called her parents, who called New Albany police to report the incident.
The man in the Jeep had left the scene by the time officers arrived.
He was described as a white man in his 60s with short hair and no facial hair. He was wearing a green T-shirt, police said.
Anyone with information about the incident should call the New Albany Police Department at 614-855-1234.
Police Chief Greg Jones said the girl did the right thing by reporting the incident.
"It needs to be reported," Jones said. "She did exactly the right thing by leaving the area, and she sought out an adult, which is exactly what she was supposed to do."
Jones said even if children are not sure of the person's motivation, they should report the incident to police and give as much information as they can so officers can investigate the incident.
"It's always important to report it so we can build awareness in the school and with families and so we have enough information to follow up on it, to see if it was a crime or if there was the intent to commit a crime," Jones said.
New Albany-Plain Local officials sent out an email notification Oct. 15 to alert parents to the incident and remind students how to act if approached by a stranger.
They encouraged students to flee in the opposite direction and find a public location, another adult or a group of people.
District officials encouraged students and families to react as the 13-year-old and her family did by calling police.
"Those are things that we work with our students in classrooms, teachers and administration in the buildings to make our kids aware of what they should do, how to go to an adult or seek help if someone's approaching them," district spokesman Patrick Gallaway said. "It's not a formalized program; it's just what we do here in terms of working with our students and our staff."
Jones said a school resource officer works with administrators and teachers on safety issues.
Police also teach awareness at New Albany Safety Town, a summer program for children ages 5 to 7, created by the New Albany Police Department and Plain Township Fire Department in 2004.