SEATTLE — There have been three attempted abductions in the last week.
Then, an attempted kidnapping Sunday at the Race for the Cure near the Seattle Center.
Then Sunday night, a man tried to grab a little boy from his front yard.
Investigators say none of the cases are connected and the children were not harmed.
But it is raising big concerns about our kids’ safety and what we can do to protect them.
The annual Race for the Cure is a family-friendly event, a show of solidarity — the human race against a dreaded disease.
But police believe 35-year-old Tray Young was in the crowd trying to abduct a child.
“Fortunately, cases like this are rare. They are not the norm, but they do happen,” Seattle police detective Mark Jamieson said.
It happened about 9:30 a.m. Sunday.
The race was well under way when, according to court documents, Young tried to kidnap a 4-year-old boy even as he held his grandmother’s hand.
“Actually, with enough force to pull him away from the grandmother,” Jamieson said.
Fortunately, the family was on alert and thwarted the abduction before it could happen.
“Kudos to the family for being aware, confronting the man and then actually following him, keeping him in sight until they could contact police, which they did,” Jamieson said.
Experts say, with so many summertime, big crowd events in Seattle, child predators can easily blend into a crowd and look for an opportunity to take a child.
“It’s really the move of a crazy person, and you really can’t predict crazy,” parenting expert Amy Lang said.
The good news is it doesn’t happen very often.
“Your kid has a higher chance of being struck by lightning than being snatched by a stranger,” Lang said.
Lang is a parenting expert with a master’s degree in applied behavioral science with a focus on adult education.
In spite of the statistics, she says, parents have to be alert.
“Keep an eye on their kids, and the younger your kid is, the bigger hawk eye you need to have on your children,” Lang said.
Lang says communication is the key.
Make sure your child knows the danger and what to do if something happens, but she says in big crowds, where just about everyone is wearing similar clothing, parents have to be even more aware and trust their instincts.
“If they look weird, there’s something off about them, just be really aware of that person. Also, for parents, if they notice somebody who is really interested in their child, like chatting with them, another sign of potential trouble would be a person who photographing your child without your permission, that’s a total no, no,” Lang said.
Lang also said parents should also pay close attention to their child’s intuition.
She says even at a young age they have the ability to feel when someone may pose a danger.
In that event, she says, watch your children even more closely.