Harold Hill attempted child abduction: Police have ‘number of leads’
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Detectives are following a number of leads as they hunt child snatchers who tried to kidnap a six-year-old boy, Havering’s top police chief has said.
The youngster was playing on his bike in Harebell Way, Harold Hill – part of the Briar Road estate – on Saturday when he was grabbed by a man.
The screaming child was dragged towards a white van while another man opened the doors of the vehicle, but was able to break free and run home with help from his eight-year-old brother.
Speaking to the Recorder, Ch Supt Jason Gwillim, Havering borough commander, said his detectives are “following up a number of inquiries” and viewing CCTV footage from the area in an attempt to find the pair.
“We are treating it very seriously,” he said. “We have spoken to schools in the area about safeguarding and increased street patrols.
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“People really need to be on their guard. It is important to be vigilant and speak to children about it. If they think something is wrong they should speak to a ‘safe stranger’ – a police officer or a PCSO, or even go into a shop.”
He ruled out the incident was related to any other reported abductions after officers looked at the targeted age range, descriptions of the suspects and other factors.
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The boy’s mum has now spoken of her distress, saying she thought she had thought her boy had been kidnapped when his brother ran inside to tell her what had happened.
“It was awful,” she said. “My son came in to tell me and I just screamed. I thought he said he had taken him – I thought I had lost him forever.”
The boys are now back at school after a traumatic week.
“They’ve both been a bit quiet but they’re getting back to their normal selves now,” added their mum. “But I’m not letting them play outside.”
The boy’s dad has warned those responsible they would be found.
“With the police and through the power of social media we will catch you,” he said, referring to his post on Facebook alerting other parents, which has been shared 21,000 times.
He also called his eight-year-old a “hero” for screaming when he saw the men attempt to snatch his brother.
Police have appealed for information about the two suspects.
The first man is described as white, bald with short facial stubble and in his 30s. He was wearing a black T-shirt and black trousers.
The second man is described as white, in his mid-30s, with brown hair. He was wearing a blue T-shirt.
A man was arrested on Sunday in connection with the incident but was released without charge.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Havering police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.