San Diego deputies released a sketch of a man they say tried to kidnap a Vista middle school student on her way to the bus stop before school on Monday.
The 13-year-old Roosevelt Middle School student said she was on her way to the bus stop at West Los Angeles Drive and Georgia Lane at around 8:30 a.m. when a white van with no license plates passed her and then made a U-turn, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.
After the van circled back, a man got out and told the student in Spanish to get in the van. He then grabbed her by her shoulder and her backpack, but she dealt him a blow with her elbow and escaped his grasp, deputies said.
As the student ran away, the man retreated to the van and drove away.
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The student described the man as a thinly-built Hispanic man with spiky brown hair. He was wearing a black sweatshirt, black jeans, black scarf or mask and had on sunglasses, according to the SDSO.
The department is offering up to $1,000 for tips that lead to an arrest. Anonymous tips can be made with Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.
In an email sent to families, the superintendent of Vista schools described the van as an older model white van with tinted windows, minor body damage and dual-door access to the rear cargo space.
The sheriff's department passed along the following safety tips for parents and school-age children:
- Use the buddy system and avoid walking alone.
- Parents should plan, map out and practice safe routes with children before they head out on their own.
- Teach your children not to talk to strangers.
- Remind children to stay off cell phones. They should be able to hear their surroundings when walking to school or a bus stop.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel you are being followed or something is not right, seek help immediately.
- If a stranger grabs you, drop to the ground, kick, hit, bite or scream. Do whatever it takes to grab the attention of others who can help you.
- Go to a trusted adult, a teacher, coach, parent, older sibling or law enforcement for help and report the incident immediately.