ORLANDO, Fla. — Strangers tried to grab two middle-school students in two separate incidents over the past several days, authorities say.
- Orange County deputies say middle-schooler is OK
- Composite sketch shows man with distinct tattoo
- Man accused of grabbing another student in Seminole
A 12-year-old boy told Orange County Sheriff's deputies that as he was leaving Legacy Middle School on Lake Underhill Road on his bike on Friday, a man rode by him and tugged on his backpack.
The boy was not hurt and got away.
NEED TO IDENTIFY: On 8/16, a boy, 12, was riding his bike on Lake Underhill from Legacy Middle when the subject rode by him on his bike and tugged on his backpack. The boy was not harmed. If you recognize this person, please call @CrimelineFL. pic.twitter.com/UZCD6Ce6Lw— Orange County Sheriff's Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) August 19, 2019
A composite sketch released by authorities shows a man with a beard and a noticeable forehead tattoo depicting two hands praying.
Investigators are asking for the public's help tracking down the man. If you recognize him, call Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS (8477).
Seminole County girl grabbed
In Seminole County on Tuesday morning, a man who tried to grab a Sanford middle-school student's hand was caught by authorities and is undergoing a mental evaluation, school district administrators said.
“A Millennium Middle School student walking to school had her hand grabbed by a stranger,” Seminole County Public Schools said in a message to parents. “The student kicked him and was able to run away and contact law enforcement.”
Midway Elementary School parents also were alerted because Millennium Middle School is nearby.
The man was apprehended immediately. His identity was not released, but officials know who he is and said he has been a problem in the past.
“It’s important to note that this individual has a history of incidents involving his mental health and erratic behavior,” the message added.
“While the student was thankfully unharmed, we want to take this opportunity to remind all our families with children that walk or ride a bike to school to do so in groups whenever possible, to travel with a cell phone if able, and to run and contact law enforcement if ever confronted by a stranger.”
Experts offer safety tips
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, abductions by strangers are the rarest type of cases of missing children. However, if they do happen, it's most likely when a child is heading to or from school.
Orange County Sheriff’s Office is reminding parents to tell their children be aware of their surroundings, walk in groups, and report anything suspicious to their schools or law enforcement.
KidsHealth.org also offers suggestions for parents to teach their children:
- Never accept gifts or candy from a stranger
- Never go anywhere with a stranger
- Say "no" to anyone who tries to make you do something you have said is wrong
- Ask for permission to leave house, yard or play area