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Suspect questioned in accosting of two girls No charges placed against SUV driver

A man in an sport utility vehicle pulls up to a 15-year-old girl on North Brier Road in Amherst, asks where she is headed and then suggests the girl get in his vehicle. She refuses, and he drives away.

The incident is repeated the next day on Vine Lane in Amherst.

Police alert residents, and a search for the man begins.

Now Amherst investigators say they've located that man in Hamburg, talked to him at length but will file no charges because no crime was committed.

"As outlandish as it may seem, a 52-year-old man approaching teenage girls and asking them if they wanted a ride, as it stands, hasn't crossed the threshold into a criminal act," Amherst Assistant Police Chief Timothy M. Green said Thursday.

The police even consulted with the Erie County District Attorney's office before letting the man go.

But the man's activities present an opportunity for parents to go over what children need to be on guard against in avoiding potentially dangerous situations, Green said.

"It's a good lesson for all of us to review with our children what is appropriate," Green said.

And not climbing into a car with a stranger is a priority.

Police tracked down the Hamburg resident after receiving a tip from an Erie County sheriff's deputy who recognized a description of the black SUV.

Investigators from the Special Victims Unit went to the man's home and questioned him about the incidents on Sept. 22 and 23.

"My understanding is that they [investigators] pretty much explained to him that, regardless of his motive, it is not appropriate to approach young people and offer rides or [approach them] for any other purpose," Green said.

The man cooperated and admitted he was the driver of the SUV.

"He asked the first girl if she wanted a ride, and she ran away," Green said of the 15-year-old.

The 13-year-old declined the offer and went straight to a friend's house. Both incidents were not reported immediately, and police say the sooner such incidents are brought to their attention, the better.

Of the man's motives, Green said:

"Let's just say there are people out there who just don't get it, and I want parents to know we are concerned about anybody in a car who would pull up and try and offer a ride to a young person."

There are a number of behaviors, Green said, that would qualify as a crime.

"Let's say if they continuously followed the person or badgered them to give them a ride, that could be harassment," the assistant chief said. "If the kid got in the car and he took her to a store and drove her back, he doesn't have [authority] to exert parental control."

Even though a crime did not occur, Green said, police felt it was important to let residents know the man had been located and questioned.

"If you have someone in a car approaching people, and I don't care how old they are, I want them to call us and let us resolve it. If someone feels it is suspicious behavior, let us investigate it and determine if there is any crime involved," he said.


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