The Cedar Rapids Police Department received two reports this morning of school-aged children approached by strangers.

The first incident involved a school-aged child that reported being followed and approached while walking to McKinley Middle School.  The student indicated that a man and woman where in a vehicle described as a green cargo-type van with a flat front.  The driver was described as an older white male with a grey beard. The passenger was described as a younger white female with brown hair highlighted by a strand of purple. The couple asked the student where he lived, his age, and where he went to school.  The student ran away.

A student at Johnson Elementary later reported a similar-looking vehicle following her as she walked to school.

Neither child was injured.  The Police Department is investigating these reports and is working with the Cedar Rapids Community Schools to remind parents to review stranger danger tips with their children, especially those who walk to and from school.

These reports follow others in Eastern Iowa this week, including in Mt. Vernon.  That report involved a white car.  The story is here.

The following are some safety tips to review with children about stranger danger:

• Try not to walk anywhere alone.  Walk with a friend.

• Don’t take shortcuts through the woods, a back street or empty lot.

• Do not get close to strangers.  Make sure you have room to run.

• Don’t tell your name or address to a stranger.

• Never go with a stranger to help look for a lost pet or play a game.

• Never get into a car with anyone that you don’t know.

• If a stranger bothers you, run away and ask an adult for help.

• Know safe places you can go – a police or fire station, the library, a store or a friend’s house.

• If a stranger follows you or grabs for you, yell loud!  Shout, “I don’t know you!”  If someone grabs you, fight back and make as much noise as you can.

If anyone has additional information about these incidents, they are encouraged to contact the Cedar Rapids Police Department at (319) 286-5491 or Linn County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-CS-CRIME (272-7463) or text CRIMES (274637) and in the message/subject, type 5227 and your tip.  You can continue to trade information with an investigator.  Text STOP to opt out at any time.

As I did in an earlier post this week, I'm including a link to the National Crime Prevention Council website, which may also help you in keeping your family safe.