The Lake Cowichan RCMP are asking members of the public for any information they may have after a couple tried to lure a child into their vehicle late last week.
On March 3 at approximately 4:30 p.m. an 11-year-old boy and his 10-year-old sister were waiting for their mother to pick them up on South Shore Road near the A&W when a vehicle pulled up beside them and its occupants (a male driver and female passenger) began speaking to the boy.
“[He said] the female had invited him into the car, indicating that they’d found a good swimming spot,” said RCMP detachment commander Sgt. Wes Olsen. “The young boy was adept enough not to get into the vehicle and he started making lots of noise and that apparently scared the people. They took off.”
According to the boy, the female was white and in her 50s or 60s.
The children were unable to identify the male driver.
The children’s mother was just driving up to the pickup spot when the incident occurred.
“As she was approaching she could see her son and a vehicle nearby and her son appeared to be yelling. As she approached, the vehicle sped away and she attempted to catch up to it to get a licence plate but was unable to do so,” said Olsen, noting the woman identified the vehicle as a newer silver Cavalier or Sunfire.
Olsen said the vehicle drove east on South Shore Road, turning right onto Wellington Street, at which point the children’s mother lost the car. She did not manage to get the vehicle’s licence plate number.
“We’ve been actively investigating this, following up on leads over the past few days,” Olsen said on Tuesday. He said the RCMP has been reviewing video surveillance in the area, investigating any similar vehicles that are brought to his attention and employing a police forensic sketch artist to create a drawing of the female suspect.
According to Olsen, a decision has yet to be made about whether or not the sketch will be released.
“I have to talk to the artist because I’m not sure how certain the witness is as to the identity. And if the sketch is not close, like a high percentage [of certainty], we won’t release that to the public because it might create confusion.”
Olsen said the child did everything right in the situation and, because a parent also witnessed part of the incident, his story has a high degree of credibility.
Since arriving in Lake Cowichan in 2013, Olsen said while there have been occasional reports of a child feeling like they may have been followed by an unknown vehicle, there has never been a case like this.
The RCMP contacted Lake Cowichan School the following day and the school took immediate action.
“We went around to each class and talked to all the students and told them what happened and told them what to do if they were in any kind of similar situation,” said principal Nicole Boucher. “And then we emailed the press release to parents and also sent home a hard copy with students to make sure that every parent got one.”
Vice principal Brent Zimmer talked with students about the situation and reviewed the appropriate actions student should take.
“Essentially if they’re approached by somebody like that just to be loud with their ‘No!’ and get out of there and report it immediately,” he said.
Sgt. Olsen agreed with this advice, and said parents should establish protocols and specific locations for picking children up, especially if it’s not the parent who will be doing it.
Olsen also had a message for the two suspects.
“If this turned out to be a misunderstanding by someone who stopped to talk to this child for some other reason, then we’d like that person to come forward and explain to us what happened,” he said. “If there was some legitimate explanation as to what happened here from another perspective, we’d certainly like to hear it, otherwise we have no reason not to believe this child is not being truthful.”
Olsen said any members of the public with information should call the local RCMP detachment directly at 250-749-6668. He said if they would prefer to remain anonymous, they can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).