Kidnapping attempt at Berkeley elementary school under investigation

FILE - Police lights.

The Berkeley Police Department is investigating an attempted kidnapping at Ruth Acty Elementary School, school officials say. 

Berkeley Unified School District officials said an unknown suspect approached a student after school on Monday, but that the student involved is safe and was not harmed. 

A description of the suspect was not provided. However, the suspect was in a white van or SUV when they approached the student while they were walking on Rose Street. The suspect allegedly asked the student if they wanted to get in their vehicle. Officials said the student did not enter the vehicle and instead ran home. 

School officials said staff at their schools have been alerted and told to call 911 if they witness any incident in which an unknown or suspicious vehicle appears to put a student at risk, especially as they come to and from school. 

"The Berkeley Police Department advises that if a student believes someone may be following them, they should immediately start heading toward the nearest crowded place and call 911 for help," school officials wrote in a statement. 

The community is asked to review safety protocol with students. 

"Stay with a group whenever possible. Always walk with at least one friend, two or three is even better. If a stranger offers you a ride, say "NO!" and stay far away from their car. If a stranger follows you on foot, get away from them as quickly as you can," school officials said. Students who feel they are in danger are also advised to run and yell loudly for help. 

Berkeley Unified School District also offered the following safety information for students and their families: 

  • If a stranger follows you in a car, turn around and go in the other direction.
  • Never leave school with a stranger.
  • Tell a trusted adult if a stranger is hanging around the school, playground, or other public areas populated by young people, including restrooms.
  • Never accept things from a stranger when walking to or from school.
  • If a stranger asks you a question, don’t talk to them. Run away.


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