Cops on alert after reports of strangers luring juveniles

As Pennsylvania State Police were reportedly investigating two apparent luring attempts that took place in the county Friday and Monday, both involving a white van with red lettering, a similar incident was reported in Aston late Tuesday afternoon.

About 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to Aston police, two white males riding in a white older model pickup truck offered candy to several juveniles while they were walking home from Pennell Elementary School. The juveniles indicated that the pickup did not have a cap on it, and had a regular sized cab. The front seat passenger was described as a white male with flat top blond hair and a scruffy goatee.

“This incident appears to be similar to the incidents in Chester Heights Borough and Middletown where a white work van with red lettering on the side was observed when its driver attempted to lure juveniles,” according to a message posted on the Aston Township Police Department’s Facebook page.

Within 46 minutes, the post was shared 287 times and prompted several comments.

Meanwhile, a corporal with the PSP Media Barracks was unable to comment on the ongoing investigation or confirm details Tuesday, but Garnet Valley School District Superintendent Marc Bertrando said he had received some information from state police that he shared with the community in an email.

“Although this information is alarming, I thought it was important to share,” Bertrando said in the letter. “Through our collective efforts, I’m sure that we can help the police find this individual.”

The email indicates the first incident occurred Friday evening at a home on Willits Way in Chester Heights. A purported Amazon delivery man approached a 15-year-old female at that location and was “persistent in delivering a package despite the 15-year-old not expecting a delivery,” the email says. The man left and it was later confirmed that no package had been scheduled for delivery that day.

The second alleged attempt occurred Monday morning as a fifth-grade student was waiting for his bus at the Glen Riddle apartments in Middletown. He was approached by a man in a van who asked the boy if he wanted to drive the vehicle. The man left after the student declined, according to the email.

“In both cases, a white van with red lettering on the side and a ladder rack with a dark skinned (possibly Hispanic) male operator was involved,” Bertrando’s email states. “The police ask that you call 911 if you observe a vehicle fitting this description engaging in suspicious activity such as loitering on school grounds, at a bus stop, etc.”

Bertrando said that was all the information he had as of Tuesday, but he felt it was enough to alert the community and let them know some of the specifics. He said Rose Tree Media School District Superintendent James Wigo had sent out similar information, as one of the alleged luring attempts occurred in that district. Wigo could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

“Our alerts go to our entire school community,” said Bertrando. “Our principals will also send home some information to our parents – how to be vigilant without getting to a level of hysteria – and also making sure people like our bus drivers and others have the information so our entire community has their eyes open to help the police in their investigation.”

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