ST. ANN, Mo. — A man dressed as Santa Claus tried to lure two elementary school students from their bus stop Thursday, St. Ann Police say.
The man, wearing a fake beard and driving a red pick-up, offered the Kratz Elementary schoolers candy near the intersection of Geraldine Avenue and June Drive. The two kids did not approach the man and ran home to tell adults what happened.
Police say parents should use the scary incident as an opportunity to talk to their kids.
Inform them of stranger danger and if they are approached in situation like this, the best thing is to tell an adult as fast as you can. Do not approach the vehicle and go straight to an adult and tell them what happened,” Lt. Dan Cowsert said.
This is the fourth incident of “stranger danger” in the Ritenour School District this school year.
Sept. 27, 2017, a student from Hoech Middle School was grabbed by a man after the boy refused a ride. The boy was able to escape.
Nov. 1, 2017, a 16-year-old girl was approached by a man while walking home from school around 8 p.m.
Nov. 10, 2017 - A Husky Academy student was approached by a man on her way to school.
The Ritenour superintendent sent another message to families after Thursday’s incident:
Jan. 11, 2018
Dear Ritenour Families,
We wanted to make you aware of a reported incident in our community earlier this morning. On the way to school today, two Kratz Elementary students were allegedly approached at their bus stop by a man dressed as Santa Claus with a fake beard driving a red pickup truck. The man asked if the students wanted candy. The incident took place near the Parc Chalet and Colonial apartments on Geraldine and June avenues in St. Ann. The two students who were approached by the man this morning ran home and told adults. No one was hurt. A few other students also reported seeing the man dressed as Santa in the red truck. St. Ann Police are investigating the incident. Anyone with information is asked to contact the St. Ann Police at (314) 427-8000. Throughout the investigation of this matter, our district will be working closely with the police to assure the safety of all students. This message is not sent to alarm families, but to make you aware so that you can remind your children to stay safe and alert as they travel to and from school each day. I also encourage parents to work together in their neighborhoods to provide an adult presence at bus stops and to help monitor children as they walk to and from school.
Below are some tips adapted from information provided by the St. Louis County Police Department:
• Be aware of your surroundings. Know what cars and people are nearby.
• Travel with others – avoid being places outside the home alone or traveling alone.
• Never approach a stranger’s car. Even if a person is asking for help or directions, children should move away from the car. The safety of the children is more important than giving directions.
• If children routinely see the same car parked (or following them) on their normal walking routes (to and from school, etc.), they should report it to authorities immediately.
• Do not talk to adults you do not know. Anytime you are approached by an adult, you should check with a parent or trusted adult immediately. If a stranger begins talking to you every day, such as saying “hi” or asking questions, or tries to become your friend, tell your parents or another trusted adult.
• If a child observes something unusual, then he/she should report it to his/her parents and/or the police.