The father of a five-year-old Cedar Rapids boy told police three people tried to kidnap his son yesterday.

According to a news release from Cedar Rapids police, the five-year-old was riding his bike on a sidewalk late Tuesday afternoon while he dad rode a motorcycle behind him on the street. The boy’s father told police a white Chevy Astro van pulled up next to the boy, a white man got out and grabbed the child. A white woman got out of the van and took the bike.

But as the two adults pushed the boy and the bike towards the van, the five-year-old’s father began yelling. He says the pair abandoned the boy and the bike, then jumped back into the van, which was being driven by a third person, and the van sped away. The incident was reported to police about three hours later. A Cedar Rapids police statement about the case urges citizens to report such incidents “immediately” and advises parents to educate their children about what to do around strangers (read more about that below). 

Cedar Rapids police released the following descriptions of the suspects in this case:

The white male was in his 30’s, short brown hair, about 5’8” and 120 pounds. The white female was in her 20’s, thin build, shoulder length brown hair and a tattoo on the thumb web of her left hand. There was a third person who was driving the van and was described as a white male, glasses and larger build.

Cedar Rapids police also offered what it called “general safety reminders” for parents:

• Know where your children are at.  When they go out to play, set boundaries of where they can ride their bike or whose house they will be playing at.
• Be cognizant of what your children are wearing when they go out to play.
• Always carry a recent picture of the child. This should include their height, weight, hair and eye color.
• Talk to your children about strangers. You cannot always tell if a stranger is good or bad by what they are wearing or what kind of car they drive.
• Even if a stranger knows the child’s name, talk to the child about not going with a stranger. Don’t advertise your child’s name on their bike or their clothing. And remind them not to accept gifts from strangers or help find lost pets.
• Have your child practice the buddy system whenever possible. Play with friends and not strangers.
• Practice situations with your children. If they are being lured by a stranger, have them yell “Fire” or “You’re not my mom/dad.”
• Talk to your child to educate them but not to scare them.