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Police investigate report of suspicious people at mall

By Janice Gregorson

gregor@postbulletin.com

There is no evidence to support reports of an attempted child abduction at Apache Mall last week.

Police Capt. Brian Winters said the matter has been investigated, and "there is no evidence a crime was committed or that there was an attempted crime."

A Rochester couple called police the evening of Jan. 17 after returning home from Apache Mall and discussing their concerns. They later sent e-mails to members of the news media and Apache Mall. The e-mail has been forwarded to many others in the community.

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In it, the husband says he and his wife and their children were at Apache Mall standing near the stroller rental cart station near the Macy’s entrance about 7 p.m. He says they were visiting with another couple and their children were playing near the strollers. He talks of seeing a man and woman walking toward his children. It caught his attention, he says, and he walked toward his children, ages 2 and 5, and brought them next to him and his wife. He says "at that exact instant," the man and woman backed and turned away from his children. He goes on to say in the e-mail that he encountered the man while in line at the food court, then later saw the woman staring at his son.

In the e-mail, the man says he didn’t discuss his concerns with his wife until they returned home. He said when he brought it up, his wife expressed similar concerns that someone had tried to abduct their children. They called police.

Winters said police have reviewed videotape from surveillance cameras from both mall locations mentioned by the couple. He said no people matching the suspects’ descriptions are seen in the video. He concedes it is possible they could have been outside the range of the surveillance cameras.

"I applaud the awareness of the parents," Winters said, but in this case, their observations do not rise to the level of a crime. Winters said he encourages parents keep close tabs on their children, keeping them within sight.

Winters also said Apache Mall has a private security force that takes "all appropriate steps for the safety of their clients." The mall, he said, has extensive video monitoring, and officials have shared that video with police.

Cheri Milligan, Apache Mall spokeswoman, said the mall has cooperated with police in this matter. She said that security officers walk the mall during business hours and that customers should report suspicions and incidents to uniformed security officers or at the guest-services center.

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