MONTROSE — Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies were asking for the public’s help Thursday in identifying a man who allegedly tried to kidnap a 10-year-old girl Sunday afternoon outside an apartment building.
Deputies described the man as a Latino, about 30 to 40 years old with dark eyes, a slight accent, spiky-styled black hair and crooked, stained teeth.
“She did a good job as a witness and got a lot of information and a lot of details,” Sheriff’s Det. Todd Sams said.
The man drove up to the girl at about 4:30 p.m. Sunday as she was walking in front of an apartment building on the 2300 block of Del Mar Road in Montrose, Sams said.
Chloe Bennett, 12, was walking with the girl and three other friends as they were headed to Chloe’s home.
But as the girls walked into Chloe’s home, they heard a scream. They turned around and the girl was gone, she said.
“We didn’t think that could happen,” Chloe said. “We didn’t expect it.”
While Chloe and her friends wondered what happened to the girl, the man had reportedly opened his car’s passenger door and ordered the girl to get inside his car.
The man turned off his car’s engine, but the girl began running away, Sams said.
She stopped, hid behind a rock and ran toward her apartment building across the street, he said.
But the man turned on his car engine, began driving, made a U-turn and drove toward the girl as she ran to her apartment building, Sams said.
“She didn’t describe it as he was actively trying to run her down,” he said.
The girl reached her apartment building and the man made another U-turn on the street’s cul-de-sac and headed south on Del Mar Road toward Montrose Avenue, Sams said.
“She was quite terrified,” he said. “She was screaming all across the street.”
Chloe and her friends headed to the girl’s apartment because, she said, they were worried about her. The girl, who Chloe said is one of her best friends, was at the apartment when they got there and told them what had happened.
Chloe’s mother, Louise Bennett, was surprised that a kidnapping attempt could happen in her quiet and safe neighborhood.
“It doesn’t matter who was around. He just wanted to take one of the little girls,” she said.
Bennett will be reinforcing safety measures with her daughter.
“We have to make sure they all stay together and leave no one behind,” she said.
The girls, including Chloe, carry cellphones and make sure they notify their parents if something suspicious happens.
“All of the mothers here know each other,” Bennett said. “We are tight-knit.”
La Crescenta schools, which are in the Glendale Unified School District, were not put on high alert, but they are looking for any suspicious activity, district spokeswoman Linda Gubler Junge said. “We are aware,” she said. “We let staff know. Parents and community members were notified via principals.”
No one has reported any similar kidnapping attempts in Glendale, Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.
But he advises residents, if an incident does occur, to immediately call police.
“These suspects are transient in nature and can be anywhere at any time,” Lorenz said. “They often will be opportunists when they see a child alone.”
An adult should always supervise young children while they are outside the home, he said.
“If kids need to walk home or be out, they should always be with others if an adult is not around to supervise,” Lorenz said. “The most important thing for a parent to do is to educate their children to stay away and not talk to strangers.”
Sheriff’s deputies also are looking for the man’s car, which was described as an older, large, white, four-door car with at least one black passenger door.
The car has tinted windows, a broken right headlight and a blue and white California license plate with “KL13.” But the number and letter sequence is not clear.
Anyone with details about the suspect and his whereabouts is asked to call Sams at Crescenta Valley Station at (818) 248-3464.