By Caleb Hutton
Update at the bottom of this post.
Despite a flurry of rumors to the contrary, Whatcom County sheriff’s deputies haven’t found any credible evidence pointing to an attempted abduction this week on Zell Road in the Custer area.
Apparently, rumors of two child abduction attempts — one on Zell Road, another on Sunrise Road west of Lynden — have been making the rounds on Facebook for the past couple of days.
Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of the sheriff’s office response to the Custer case:
— Bellingham Crime (@bhamcrime) January 30, 2013
And here’s what Undersheriff Jeff Parks posted in reply to a query on Facebook:
There was a report made to our office regarding a possible suspicious vehicle in the area. We have no information nor report that an actual attempt was made to abduct a child. If posting further information on the circumstances or a vehicle description is warranted, we will get that information out to the public immediately. If someone has information regarding this situation that should be reported we encourage them to call our office or 911.
Still, deputies are taking the report seriously, going door to door asking if anyone saw anything suspicious. But so far, the investigation hasn’t turned up much to substantiate the claims, and as the above note suggests, if no crime occurred there’s no reason to release a description of the vehicle.
“We have nothing to put out to the public,” Parks said Wednesday, Jan. 30.
As for the Lynden case, Parks first heard about it about an hour ago, when I called him up to ask about it. It’s possible it was never reported to law enforcement.
If anyone has information about either incident, contact the sheriff’s office at 360-650-6650. After hours, call 911.
Update at noon Thursday. Here’s some more info from the sheriff’s office.
We have received several requests to put out information regarding the continuing Facebook Posts about reports of an attempted child abduction recently in Whatcom County.
The Details that we can release:
On Tuesday 1/29/13 at 0830 hours, a Deputy was dispatched to the 2100 Block of Zell Road. The Deputy contacted the reporting party, an area resident, who was with a child who became scared when a car drove by slowly as the child was waiting for the school bus. Upon talking with the reporting party and the child the deputy determined that the driver of the car did stop nearby, but he did not get out of the vehicle, nor did he say anything to the child. The description of the car and the driver are vague as the young child was the only witness. School officials came to the location after learning that a report was being made. The Deputy did a neighborhood canvass and has contacted a number of people to determine if there were any other witnesses, or if the car or driver might be identified.
As of this time we have no identifying information on either the vehicle or driver who was only described as being “a really old male subject with a dog in the back of the car”. The car has been described as a silver compact sedan. We take these reports seriously, and in an abundance of caution we are still investigating.
No assumptions should be made from this information that anyone attempted to abduct or harm a child. We value the information and feedback from our social media followers, however we urge people to carefully evaluate information that is posted outside official channels or releases. We welcome your questions and thank our Facebook fans for their continued support and words of encouragement received daily for the men and women dedicated to keeping our community safe from criminals and predators.
As always, we recommend that residents be aware of people in their neighborhoods, watch out for each other and report suspicious activity, and in particular keep an eye on unattended young children near roadways or waiting for the school bus. It is always recommended that a parent or responsible adult accompany young children who are outside waiting for a ride or the bus.
Should a situation occur or information be received by the Sheriff’s Office that a suspect or known offender is at large, or has attempted any crime that puts the public at risk we will broadcast the appropriate information via the news media, emergency notification systems and our social media resources.
And another update.
Information regarding a suspicious circumstances report in the Lynden area. Student approached by suspicious driver.
On Tuesday evening (1/29) the Sheriff’s Office received a report that a teenage male was approached several hours earlier when he departed the school bus in the area of Sunrise and Badger roads. A white male in his 30′s, driving a black Honda Civic hatchback offered to give him a ride home in his car. The boy refused to get into the car and went to a neighbor’s house. The driver of the car looked unkempt and it appeared that he might be living out of his car. The man drove off and the boy was not able to get the license plate information. School officials have sent out notifications on this incident. This incident does not appear to have any connection to the Zell Road incident. Anyone with information as to the driver’s identity, location or vehicle should contact 911.