Rash Of Kidnapping Attempts In Seattle Sparks Concern

Megan Charles

Four back-to-back kidnapping attempts within the same week have law enforcement officials in the state of Washington especially concerned. Therefore, families are being urged to remain alert of their child's whereabouts.

In one incident, Melissa Hines, a mother in White Center, fought off a masked assailant who tried to nab her 3-year-old son, Alex, as he played in the backyard of their home inside a neighborhood seen as generally safe.

The family had just returned from a day at the park, and Melissa was playing catch with her two sons, Alex and Logan, 5. She followed Alex around the corner of the house where she encountered the suspect, her son tucked under the man's arm who tried to charge passed her.

"He stood still in his tracks for a bit and it took a while for it to process that he had my son. I tried to fight him away and I started punching and kicking and he started punching and kicking. He kicked me in the stomach and after that I lost my breath and couldn't handle it anymore so I lay on my son," Melissa was quoted as recollecting in the MSN report.

The botched Hines abduction is one of four separate kidnapping attempts that have transpired over a five day period in the Seattle area – an unprecedented rate according to Seattle PD.

On May 29, a toddler was snatched from Mary's Place, a drop-in shelter for homeless families, but was tracked down in less than half-an-hour. The girl, who was found to be unharmed, was in the possession of a 33-year-old woman. The unidentified perpetrator was arrested and charged.

A 4-year-old was nabbed a few days later on June 2, taken while holding his grandmother's hand during a Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure event at the Seattle Center. A 35-year-old male was confronted and bolted before he could be detained.

Investigators indicate they've not established a connection in the cases, but each have an element of brazenness and the fact that all the children were toddlers between the ages of 2 and 4. The age is notable as, according to analysis by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the average age of a kidnapped child is closer to 11.

In yet another similar incident, a mother was dropping one of her kids off at school on June 3 when she noticed a man behaving suspiciously near her parked car. The man quickly walked away towards his own car and sped off. Her 4-year-old son was still inside when she approached. The child told his mother the suspect had tried tugging at all of the locked handles to get inside.

Often perpetrators will attempt to entice kids with candy and money or lure them with requests to help look for a beloved, adorable pet in lieu of audaciously snatching them from a yard or parked car within earshot of their parents – though it's not entirely unheard of as 17 percent of attempts, based on NCMEC stats, are made while parents are monitoring their kids.

Parents should advise their kids about stranger danger and how to avoid being a victim. The majority of children, 83 percent, deter their own abduction by kicking, screaming, and running – drawing attention to their situation. Adult males, with a history of sex crimes – assaults and or indecent exposure – primarily commit these crimes, often doing so from a vehicle, making their escape easier. Kidnappings spike during late spring and summer.

[Image via Shutterstock]