Man arrested on suspicion of posing as police officer to kidnap girl on way to school

Victim ‘approached by man wearing a yellow hi-vis jacket, who took her to an adjacent area off the road and searched her clothing before cycling off’

Tom Batchelor
Friday 15 October 2021 14:33
<p>Police said they would be increasing uniformed patrols in the area to reassure the public </p>

Police said they would be increasing uniformed patrols in the area to reassure the public

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A man has been arrested on suspicion of kidnap and impersonating a police officer after a teenage girl was “searched” by an individual wearing a yellow high-vis jacket while on her way to school.

Sussex Police said the 14-year-old victim was approached by a man in the Three Bridges area of Crawley, West Sussex, on Wednesday morning.

He took her to an “adjacent area off the road and searched her clothing before cycling off”, the force said in a statement. The girl is safe and unharmed.

Police said the girl was approached just after 8am on 13 October. A 32-year-old local man was detained in the town at 11.15am the following day and is being held in custody.

Following the incident, police said they would be increasing uniformed patrols in the area.

Superintendent Marc Clothier said: “We understand that this arrest will impact communities. The girl is safe and unharmed and is receiving support from officers, working with her family.

“We want to reassure people we have not received any similar reports at this time and there is no current risk to anyone in the community in relation to this case.

“You will see more uniformed patrols in the area and we encourage you to stop and talk to us if you have any concerns.

“If you have any information that would assist our investigation, please call us on 101, quoting Operation Lonsdale.”

He added that members of the public who were unsure of an officers’ identity should request confirmation over their police radio.

“We understand some people may want additional reassurance when interacting with a lone police officer and when you are alone,” he said.

“If this is the case, genuine officers can use their police radio on loudspeaker to talk to the operator in the police control room.

“The operator can confirm the identity of the officer, that they are on duty and carrying out legitimate policing business.

“You can also ask a passer-by to observe. Off-duty officers intervening in a crime in action or where someone is vulnerable, and not carrying a radio, will quickly call 999 for back up.”

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