Police Increase Patrols Near Schools Following "White Van" Incident

By Jeff Raasch, Reporter

Police check out a white van that was reported as suspicious in the parking lot of Family Video, 1531 32nd St. NE, this morning, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012. Police have checked out several white vans reported as suspicious since suspects in an abduction attempt were reportedly driving one Tuesday. (Jeff Raasch/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Liz Blood

MARION, Iowa - Marion police plan to increase patrols in response to another incident involving a white van Wednesday afternoon.

According to a police report, someone driving a white van around 4 p.m. yelled at an 11-year-old boy to “Get the (expletive) in my car” in the area of South 15th Street and A Avenue. The boy, who was walking from Vernon Middle School to a football practice field at the high school, ran away to his coach and was not harmed.

Police Lt. Scott Elam said the boy heard a male voice but did not see the driver or have any other details about the van.

“It happened in the blink of an eye,” Elam said.

Marion Superintendent Sarah Pinion sent an e-mail to parents and others about the incident, asking them to “reinforce safety procedures.” Elam said more officers would be patrolling in the area of Wednesday’s incident.

It marks at least the third incident reported to police involving a person driving a white van in the last seven weeks. On July 24, police said a man in a white van reportedly offered a 14-year-old boy candy while at an intersection near Linn-Mar High School in Marion. The boy rode away on his bike.

One week later, a man and a woman reportedly approached 5-year-old boy that was riding his bike along Kirkwood Boulevard SW in Cedar Rapids and tried to lead him toward a white van. The boy’s father intervened and the boy was not harmed.

Police have not connected any of the incidents, but are investigating based on the information they have.

“Regardless of what color a car or van is, you should always be aware of your surroundings,” Elam said.

Anyone with information about Wednesday’s incident is asked to call police at (319) 377-1511.
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