Woman poses as teacher, tries to kidnap 4-year-old boy at school, police say
A Vacaville, Calif., woman has been arrested after she tried to kidnap a child while his stepfather was dropping off a sibling at school, police said.
Aileen Caringal, 56, was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and trespassing on a school campus while interfering with children, according to the Vacaville Police Department.
Police received reports about 8 a.m. Thursday that a woman near Cooper Elementary School was acting erratically and displaying “concerning behavior” near the school. The woman, later identified as Caringal, was taking photographs of cars and people near the school, authorities said.
Soon after, police said, Caringal tried to open the door of a parent’s car.
She then grabbed the hand of a 4-year-old boy whose stepfather was busy dropping off a sibling. Authorities said she asked whether the child was ready to go to school and started walking away from the campus with him.
Caringal walked about 15 feet from where she met the boy before the child’s stepfather realized what was happening and intervened, police said. The man questioned Caringal, who said that she was a teacher and that the boy, whom she called “Brian,” was in her class.
The boy’s name is not Brian and he is not a student, Vacaville officers said.
When the child’s stepfather took the boy and began to walk away, Caringal followed them, authorities said. She insisted she was the boy’s teacher and told the man she was going to call the chief of police if he did not allow her to take the child.
Another adult who saw what was happening helped the man usher his children into the school office while he called police.
Caringal then fled to her home in the 700 block of Christine Drive, where she was arrested, authorities said.
“We are grateful for the swift action of this parent,” the Vacaville Police Department said in a statement. “This incident serves as a reminder for all of us to remain vigilant and be aware of what is going on around us. It is also an important reminder for us to have conversations with our children about strangers.”
Vacaville police have sought a bail enhancement for the woman “given the seriousness of the offense” and the proximity of Caringal’s home to the elementary school. She is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail, according to inmate records.
The Police Department also is working with the Vacaville Unified School District to file a restraining order against the woman, authorities said.
Start your day right
Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.