Parents and police were on edge for much of this month because of at least four reports that a man and woman were trying to lure Buffalo kids into a white Lexus.
After locating the Lexus and the man believed involved in the incidents, police now say no crimes occurred.
“The investigation found no evidence of abduction or attempted abduction,” Chief of Detectives Dennis J. Richards said Wednesday.
It was a case of drug dealer and a drunk woman making inappropriate comments to youngsters, police said. But no crime was committed here, they said.
Police recently located the Lexus, which they had been searching for since Oct. 1, in Buffalo.
Once they determined who owned the vehicle, they were able to identify the driver.
And it turned out the man who had been driving the Lexus was arrested Oct. 6 in Forrest City, Ark., on unrelated drug charges. He was identified as Marcus Thompson, 33, of Buffalo.
After talking to Thompson by telephone, investigators concluded that he and his intoxicated woman passenger had no intention of abducting any children.
Lt. Jeffrey Rinaldo, in a news conference Wednesday in front of Buffalo City Hall, said the woman’s comments are what put the children and their parents on high alert.
“It appears the woman had something of an inappropriate conversation with the teenage girl, but at this time it does not appear to rise to the level of a criminal action,” Rinaldo said.
The woman had an encounter with a 16-year-old girl Oct. 1 on Connecticut Street, police confirmed, and they are still attempting identify her but believe she is no longer in the Buffalo area.
Police said Thompson, arrested near the Tennessee border on drug charges, cooperated with Buffalo detectives. Video obtained during the investigation corroborated the man’s statements, police said.
Detectives in the Sex Offense Squad and Intelligence Unit along with district patrol officers, the police department’s Video Surveillance Center and the state’s Erie Crime Analysis Center all assisted in the search for the vehicle, which was found in Buffalo, Richards said.
Police spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge said other incidents reported this month “appear to be non-criminal in nature, and were part of the tremendous amount of public assistance and cooperation with the department’s investigation of the Oct. 1 incident.”
Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda and Will Keresztes, associate superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools, in separate news conferences in front of City Hall, urged parents to educate their children on the need to avoid strangers and report any suspicious activity.
Rinaldo said officials erred on the side of caution.
“Thankfully, we’re here talking about suspicious activities and not a crime,” he said.