Robbery appears to be the motive behind several recent crimes initially reported as “stranger danger” incidents in the vicinity of two Kansas City high schools.
Four times in recent days, students reported being approached by people in what Kansas City police believe to be part of a pattern where robbers are seeking to steal cellphones.
“They are not a typical stranger-danger situation,” Police Sgt. Marisa Barnes said in a Thursday afternoon news conference outside East High School, several blocks from where one incident reportedly occurred.
Three other incidents have been reported in the area of Northeast High School. In one of those cases, a female student was grabbed by the robbers after initially refusing to surrender her property, Barnes said the robbers fled once they obtained the property.
Barnes said the criminals do not appear to be specifically targeting students, and some of the victims have been males.
An incident at 17th Street and White Avenue, involving a female student near East High School, occurred Tuesday, but it was not reported until Thursday after media reports of the previous crimes.
School district officials said the girl was walking when a man tried to lure her to his vehicle. She ran away instead.
A spokesman for Kansas City Public Schools emphasized that the reported incidents are not happening at the schools but in the community. The district has increased its security patrols and has been contacting students and families through letters, emails, phone calls and social online media to be alert and report any suspicious activities.
“Our kids are being impacted, and we have to do everything we can to protect them,” spokesman Andre Riley said.
Barnes urged students to be aware of their surroundings and to walk in groups. Police advise that if someone demands property, they should give it up.
“It can be replaced,” she said. “It’s not worth being hurt or killed.”
Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477.