Teen foils abduction attempt in Galloway

By MEGGAN CLARK Staff Writer,
August 22, 2005

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP – A 15-year-old boy was barely able to escape Sunday
afternoon after a man forced him into a vehicle and tried to chain him to
the interior, police said.

Police had to use bolt cutters to remove a 4-foot-long chain that had
been padlocked around the boy’s neck, said Galloway police Sgt. Paul
Dooner.

He said the boy is “shaken up” but physically uninjured.

“I give the kid a lot of credit for getting away from (the suspect),”
Dooner said. “It sounds scary, and it definitely is.”

Police said the boy was riding his bicycle near a vacant home on
Wrangleboro Road, between Collins Avenue and Moss Mill Road, at about
1:30 p.m. when the suspect attempted to force the boy into an older model
maroon Jeep, possibly a Wrangler with a tan top.

The suspect, described as a man in his 50s, told the boy to get in the
Jeep, police said. When he didn’t, the man grabbed him and forced him
into the passenger side of the vehicle. The boy was able to escape out
the driver’s side door, but he didn’t get far. The suspect grabbed the
teenager again, overpowered him and stuffed him back in the passenger
side of the vehicle.

“The suspect produced a heavy chain approximately 4-feet-long and secured
it using a padlock, around the boy’s neck,” Dooner said in a press
release. “The boy was able to escape and ran onto Wrangleboro Road, where
he flagged down a passing vehicle that stopped to help.”

The passers-by immediately called police, who used bolt cutters to remove
the chain from around the boy’s neck, Dooner said.

The suspect fled north on Wrangleboro Road, police said.

The boy was treated at the scene by Galloway Emergency Medical Services
and declined further treatment. He was released to a guardian, police
said.

Police described the suspect as a white male, heavyset, wearing a red
T-shirt with no sleeves, round glasses with thick black wire frames,
khaki shorts and brown slip-on shoes. The vehicle had no back seat and
was cluttered, police said.

Dooner said police don’t know whether the man specifically targeted the
boy or whether he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong
time.

He said officers are in the process of checking known sex offenders to
see if the suspect is in the state’s sex-offender registry.

Dooner urged parents to make their children aware of the incident and to
take safety precautions.

“Watch them. Don’t let them ride alone or be out alone,” he said.

The township recently passed an ordinance dramatically restricting where
sex offenders can live, touching off a wave of similar ordinances in
other Atlantic County towns.

Reached Sunday evening, Michele Troisi-Gjerazi, a member of Communities
United for Family Safety, the group that pushed for the ordinance, said
she is “speechless” that a person would still try to abduct a child in
Galloway.

“I just can’t believe, with all the attention that Galloway has gotten
(as being tough on sex offenders) … that they’re still so bold enough
that they would attempt to take one of our children,” she said. “They’re
relentless. Thank God that little boy got away.”

She said she would push to add loitering as a crime to Galloway’s
ordinance, and for a restrictive code on drivers’ licenses so police can
easily identify sex offenders who drive.

Councilman Ed McGee said he was also unnerved by the incident.

“You can’t be to the point of paranoia where you’re afraid to walk out
the front door … but you have to make your children aware of the
problems that are out there,” he said. “It can happen in any community.”

John H. White, Ph.D., an associate professor of criminal justice at the
Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, agrees. He’s a licensed
psychologist who treats sex offenders in his private practice.

“I don’t think a residence restriction is going to stop true sexual
predators who move about our society hunting for a child, or hunting for
a female (adult) or in some cases a male,” White said. “The true sexual
predator is going to cross over into other counties, other areas, other
jurisdictions.”

Police have not said that the attempted kidnapping was sexually
motivated. Dooner said investigators still haven’t determined what the
motive was.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact Sgt. Dooner
at 652-3705 ext. 321.

Copyright 2005: The Press of Atlantic City

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