Young girl runs from stranger

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A 10-YEAR-OLD Craigavon schoolgirl has been commended for her awareness of stranger danger after she was approached by a suspicious man in a car.

Police are investigating the incident which happened in the Garrymore area on Monday night at around 7.45pm.

The girl, a pupil at St Brendan’s Primary School, was walking home to Larkfield Meadows from her friend’s house in Garrymore when a dark coloured estate car pulled up alongside her.

The driver turned off the engine and wound down the window before beckoning the girl over. She ran off and the car was re-started and reversed out of the cul-de-sac.

The girl’s mother, Margaret Heaney, told the ‘MAIL’ she was proud her daughter had listened to advice she’d been given about stranger danger.

Margaret (38) said: “When he called her over she just froze then ran back to her friend’s house.

“She did very well. I’ve always told her not to speak to strangers. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a man or a woman. I would never send a stranger to pick her up from anywhere. She was told if this happened to run to the nearest house and that’s exactly what she did.”

When Margaret’s daughter got home they reported the incident to police and her daughter was able to tell officers what happened and give a description of the man who approached her. The driver is described as being a bald man aged between 30 and 40, of medium build with facial stubble. He was wearing a dark coloured jacket.

Anyone who saw a vehicle or individual in the area matching the description given to police or anyone with any other information is asked to contact police on 0845 600 8000. Information can also be given anonymously to the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.

Margaret commented: “I would encourage parents to make sure their children always stay in groups. That was a real wake up call even for me because I’ve always told her to be careful around strangers.

“People think these things always happen to someone else. But these things do happen and it’s very, very scary. My daughter was shaken by it at the time but she’s okay now.”

Independent Councillor Kieran Corr said the young girl’s behaviour was a credit to her school and her parents.He said: “I applaud the young girl for running off if she was not sure who was in the car.

“At a young age children are taught by their parents, guardians and teachers never to talk to strangers and this young girl acted out what she has been taught.”

Mr Corr added: “I have spoken with the local PSNI officers this morning (Tuesday) and they have assured me that there will be extra patrol cars within the area following this incident. I have also contacted the local primary schools who all do a fine job in teaching life skills to our young people and they will be sending out that message again to always be careful and vigilant.

“I would once again encourage young people never to walk alone in the evenings when possible and don’t go near anyone in a car who you do not know.”

UUP councillor Jo-Anne Dobson urged parents to be vigilant. She said: “Understandably parents in Craigavon will be anxious after hearing the news of this incident. Luckily the child ran away when the man called her over to the car.

“This approach has highlighted the need for parents to know where their children are and who they are with at all times.”