What parents should know Strangers said to have approached schoolchildren in Wachtberg

Wachtberg-Niederbachem · Parents in Wachtberg are being warned per Whatsapp about persons trying to pick up children on their way to school. Bonn police are currently investigating two cases, one in Wachtberg and one on the Heiderhof.

 A boy was allegedly approached on Ahrweiler Strasse in Berkum on his way home from school.

A boy was allegedly approached on Ahrweiler Strasse in Berkum on his way home from school.

Foto: Axel Vogel

A WhatsApp message sent to numerous parents is causing a stir in Wachtberg: a man and a woman are said to be trying to “pick up children on their way to school and trying to lure them into the car with chocolate”. And further: It is believed "that there is a group behind this with several more people involved". The location is given as "Wachtberg" and the message concludes with an appeal to parents to “watch out for your children". Police are aware of the situation.

Spokesperson for the Bonn police, Michael Beyer, said the incident was reported to police on November 23, 2023 in the afternoon. Specifically, it had to do with a child being approached in a suspicious manner on Ahrweiler Strasse in Berkum. The incident allegedly occurred on November 22, 2023. As the police spokesperson explained, an eight-year-old boy was allegedly approached by a woman who was in a car at around 1 pm while he was on his way home from Berkum primary school. The woman, whom the child estimated to be around 40 years old and was said to have black hair, allegedly offered the boy chocolate if he would get into the car.

Police see no indications that a criminal gang is involved

Michael Beyer explained that the police had a safety talk with the mother and are in contact with the school. "The boy concerned will be questioned about the incident in the presence of a parent or guardian," Beyer continued. He also said that no other similar incidents had been reported to the police in Wachtberg. The police spokesman emphasized that there were no indications of a criminal gang at work here.

"In principle, we investigate all leads on criminal offenses or on dangerous situations," explained Beyer. Especially when there are indications that a child has been approached in a suspicious manner, police act immediately to investigate the matter, "regardless of any possible criminal relevance", Beyer continued. "We take the information and pass it on to the criminal investigation department for evaluation and assessment. Incidentally, this is also to counteract the spread of unverified information on social media”.

Police say another incident is said to have occurred recently on the Heiderhof, also resulting in parents receiving warnings in Whatsapp groups: It is alleged that a boy was approached in a suspicious manner by an unknown man on Akazienweg on November 17. No further information or reports were subsequently received by the police. An interview with the child's mother also yielded no further information.

How parents and children can protect themselves

If a child tells their parents about an incident in which they were approached or even harassed by a stranger, the Bonn police generally advise parents to remain calm. Parents should let their child know that they are now safe with their parents. Praise is also appropriate if the child has confided about the incident. The police also advise parents to believe the child and listen carefully to their account, "without probing or reproaching them". Parents should call police immediately by dialing 110. Safety experts also recommend the following to keep children safe: Parents should not write their child's name visibly on the outside of their child's clothing or school bag. They should also encourage their children to be on time.

Another important point is that children need to know where they can reach their parents. As well, children should only be sent to school or the playground together with others. Very important: police advise that children need to keep their distance from vehicles if they are approached. Further information is available online. The Crime Prevention and Victim Protection Department is available for further enquiries at 0228 15-7676.

(Orig. text: Axel Vogel / Translation: Carol Kloeppel)

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