How Abductors Get Willing Victims

Safety Expert Shows Even Older Children May Become Easy Prey

March 17, 2005 — Most people think they and their loved ones would know
what to do if they were ever confronted by a potential abductor. But
child safety expert Bob Stuber showed “Primetime Live” that may not
always be the case — even with older children, like teenagers.

Watched by “Primetime’s” hidden cameras, Stuber stopped two teens
strolling in an Oklahoma suburb. The tall and mustachioed Stuber told
them he was a police officer making an arrest and a police dog had been
unleashed in the neighborhood.

In an urgent tone, he asked them their names and asked them to stand by
his vehicle, an unmarked car. Without question, they obeyed his orders.
“If you see this dog, it’s a German shepherd, come running up the street,
jump in this car real quick,” Stuber said. In less than a minute, the
girls were in Stuber’s car.

Going Without a Fight

Minutes later, Stuber told the girls he wasn’t a cop — he was working
with ABC News.

Fourteen-year-old Caitlin said she didn’t think Stuber was a cop all
along. Her mother, Vickie, who was watching the incident with an ABC News
crew, wanted to know why she didn’t run or ask to see the man’s badge. “I
don’t know,” Caitlin said.

Stuber says he knows what happened. He overloaded the girls with
information, putting them in a situation they wouldn’t recognize.
“It could go either way. But if you really don’t know what to do, you’re
going to do what I tell you to do, and that’s exactly what happened,” he
said. “I had you all the way in the car. I mean the keys were in there,
and I all I had to do was drive.”

Stuber, in fact, believes this is what happened last winter to Carlie
Bruscia, 11. Her abduction in Sarasota, Fla., was captured on videotape.
She is seen talking to her abductor and going with him without his taking
her by force.

“Whatever he said to her was logical. And that’s all it had to be,”
Stuber told ABC News.

Brusica’s body was later found in nearby woods. An unemployed auto
mechanic was arrested in her death and will go to trial later this year.

Up for a Challenge

Stuber pointed out that abductors targeting teenagers may actually have
more options on how to approach them because they are more often away
from their parents.

ABC News’ hidden cameras followed Stuber to a mall where he stopped
teenagers Blaine and Katherine as they were leaving. He told them he was
working for a new reality TV series, and that their parents had given him
permission to follow them and see how many places they stopped at.

The girls appeared to take the bait. Then he told them he wanted them to
follow him to a van in the parking lot that held a TV studio, and that
one of their parents was inside.

Katherine paused and told Stuber, “My mom just called and she’s on her
way to pick me up.”

Stuber responded, “No, she’s in the van, trust me. It’s all set up.”

He asked Katherine, “You don’t trust me?” She responded, “I don’t know
you,” and insisted on calling her mother before going anywhere.

Stuber told her, “I don’t mind if you call her, no, but she’s not
supposed to tell you where she’s at.”

Katherine and Blaine stood firm. “I don’t think so,” Katherine said. “I
don’t think that is OK,” Blaine said.

Later, Stuber says the girls did the right thing: They challenged the
stranger’s story and made them qualify themselves. “If the victim — the
child, the kid, the teenager — doesn’t ask, they’re just a sitting duck,”
he said.

The Good Samaritan Ploy

Stuber showed ABC News another technique abductors may use: the Good
Samaritan ploy.

In another store parking lot, Stuber let the air out of the tires of his
next potential victim while she was inside shopping. When 18-year-old
Jaycee came out, he casually pointed it out to her.

Minutes later, he offered to help her. He handed her a device that he
said would pump the tire back up — but said it needed to be plugged into
his car. He pulled his car up alongside hers and got out.

“If you put that in my lighter up front — right up in front there are two
lighter slots,” he told her. “Either one should work. And the keys you
may have to put the keys in to turn the ignition. Try it.”

Jaycee got into his car — leaving her extremely vulnerable, according to
Stuber.

A few minutes later, Stuber told Jaycee he was working with ABC News and
that she had put herself in a dangerous situation.

He said he could have slid into the car right behind her. “I would’ve
taken off and the door would have shut as I’m driving. Boom, we’re out of
there,” he said. “We would have been out of this lot in just a matter of
seconds.”

Jaycee admitted she had doubts about getting in his car. But like the
girls in Oklahoma, she went anyway — “because I didn’t know what else to
do,” she said.

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