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Police seek van driver

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | December 2, 2010 8:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - Police are looking for the driver of a van who followed a 12-year-old Coeur d'Alene girl Tuesday afternoon, and may have also been the driver in a similar incident in Post Falls earlier this month.

The girl told her grandmother she headed home after school and was walking east on Mullan Avenue near 15th Street about 3:20 p.m. when she noticed an eastbound van slowly pass her. The van drove off but returned and followed the girl.

"The victim said the van pulled up next to her and the driver motioned for her to get in," according to a press release. "She shook her head no and the van drove off."

The girl said when she approached 20th Street she saw the van parked on Mullan Avenue facing west. She used her cell phone to call her grandmother, who met with her on 20th Street. They looked for the van, but it was gone.

The girl described the van as dark blue with gray stripes and tinted windows. The driver was described as 40 to 50 years old, unshaven and wearing a royal blue baseball cap.

The Coeur d'Alene School District sent out a "parent alert" via e-mail Wednesday afternoon to parents about the situation.

"Within the last hour, district officials were alerted by the Coeur d'Alene Police Department of a potentially dangerous situation for students as they walk to and from school," it said.

The note warns parents about "a perpetrator who is approaching enticing children in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene corridor driving a dark blue van with gray stripes and tinted windows."

A similar incident involving a male suspect driving a blue/gray full size van with Washington plates and no hubcaps was reported to the Post Falls Police Department at 3:10 p.m. Nov. 9.

The female victim said she was walking home from school in the vicinity of Mullan Avenue and Spokane Street when she was approached by a male in the van. He asked her if she wanted a ride and the victim said no. The male encouraged her to get into the van. The victim said she walked into the Post Falls library and the male circled the block twice in his van.

In that case, the male suspect was described as mid-30s, wearing a white T-shirt, and black and gray zip-up sweatshirt with no hood. He was described as having blond short, cropped hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information on either incident is asked to call the Coeur d'Alene Police Department at 769-2320 or Post Falls Police at 773-3517. Coeur d'Alene Police Chief Wayne Longo and Post Falls Police Chief Scot Haug are asking the public to review "Stranger Danger" information with their children and report any suspicious circumstances to police.

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