The first of several “Stranger Danger” alerts, issued by Sioux County Sheriff’s Department, said that a “60-70 year old man” approached grade school students in Spencer, Iowa, in an attempt to abduct them. This and other recent suspicious activity in and around Sioux County has raised the eyebrows of community member and students alike.
The news of such suspicious activity reached Dordt by way of a bulletin sent by Interim Dean of Campus Life, Robert Taylor. Since this announcement, no one has been arrested or apprehended for attempted abduction in the Sioux County area.
Although there have been no arrests for this crime as of yet, the Sioux County Police Department has been “doing their best to catch this guy,” said Jack Brundell, a part-time police officer at the Sioux County Police Department and recent graduate of Dordt College.
“It is really hard now because everyone is so alert that people think they see [him] everywhere,” Brundell explained. “In one day there are reports of this man being spotted in one end of the county one minute, and then at the other end the next minute. We at the Sioux Center police department take this matter very seriously and take every report of this man seriously as well.”
Because so many residents are aware of these reports, several false spottings and accusations have occurred. On September 12, police were falsely informed that a teenager had been abducted in Lyon County. Similarly, on September 20, a grade school teacher in Lyon County noticed a vehicle matching the suspicious driver’s vehicle description leaving the grade school parking lot. A few hours later police reported that the vehicle spotted had been “a grandparent dropping a grandson off at the school.”
Dordt students have had mixed reactions to the bulletin.
“I was definitely surprised,” said senior Jonny Grotenhuis, a business administration major. “I wasn’t expecting to hear something like that. [It was] especially sketchy because it happened in several different towns.”
Like Grotenhuis, most students were concerned about the events because of the conservative nature of northwest Iowa. Some students, however, were not as surprised.
“I understand that it is a dangerous and sad situation,” said senior Kyra Kats, psychology major. “[I know] we have to be careful of this creeper, but coming from a big city, this happens all the time. The amount of awareness that has been raised because of this situation goes to show just what a small town we are in.”
Because of these recent events, parents and law enforcement alike have stressed public safety both for children and adults. Almost every police report concerning these suspicious encounters have “stranger danger” tips for adults to pass on to children. Sheriff Dan Altena suggests not to linger in isolated areas and to be aware of vehicles around you.
Further information about the attempted abductions can be found on www.siouxcountysheriff.com.
Danielle Richards, Staff Writer