RCMP treat ride complaints seriously
Another report in the city of an elementary school age student being asked by a man if she needed a ride has turned out to be a misunderstanding.
The girl screamed and ran away when the driver of an older turquoise green four-door sedan asked her if she needed a ride Monday morning. The incident happened in the College Heights area of the city near the corner of Vista View and Grayshell Road.
In a press release Thursday police say they’ve identified the driver and the vehicle involved in the incident.
“Officers are confident that there was no ill will or criminal intent towards the girl,” stated the release. “Officers have spoken to the family of the little girl and explained the full results of the investigation. “
The school has also been advised.
“Although the Prince George RCMP receive several similar complaints throughout the year, it is very seldom that these reports turn out to be criminal in nature” says Cpl. Craig Douglass, spokesperson for the Prince George RCMP. “Even though misunderstandings are common, we treat all these incidents seriously.”
One incident in the last few months turned out to be very serious in nature.
On Jan. 9 a 15-year-old Duchess Park student reported that a man in a dark Ford Explorer pulled over and told her to get in his vehicle. Later he was reported to have followed her through the Parkwood Mall parking lot.
She reported this was the third time in 30 days the man, described as about 55 with grayish blond hair, confronted her, though it was the first time she reported the incident to the RCMP.
“We identified and spoke to the person,” Douglass said. “This was one of those rare times there is something more to it.”
The information provided led to the arrest of 52-year-old city resident. Andrew Bower. Bower was released with a number of conditions, and the RCMP recommended a charge of criminal harassment to provincial Crown counsel. Bower appeared in court Feb. 22 and has another court date scheduled for May 22.
On Dec. 13 the RCMP were told a female Grade 3 student was offered a ride while walking on Johnson Street. She declined, ran away then reported the incident to her principal at Harwin Elementary.
Police were not able to identify a suspect.
A person of interest was sought by police after a white minivan was seen in the area of Blackburn Elementary on a few occasions before the week of Nov. 13. The man came forward and police said that conversation and other investigatory measures led them to believe he is not a threat to children.
An 11-year-old girl said someone offered her a ride home on Nov. 13 in the area of Ron Brent. The vehicle was an older grey single cab pickup truck with a roof rack. He was described as a heavier Caucasian, bald and about 30 years old.
Douglass reiterated that the police take all the reports they receive very seriously. Often they turn out to be misunderstandings. If you feel a child is in distress and needs a ride, the best thing to do would be to call the RCMP, he added.