Police investigate kidnapping attempt at Berkeley school

Police say someone in a white van or SUV approached a student at Ruth Acty Elementary School on Monday afternoon.

Police investigate kidnapping attempt at Berkeley school
Ruth Acty Elementary in North Berkeley. Google Street View

Berkeley police are investigating the attempted kidnapping of a student at Ruth Acty Elementary School on Monday afternoon.

Superintendent Enikia Ford Morthel sent an email safety alert about the incident, in the area of Ada and Acton streets in North Berkeley, on Monday night.

"We have been made aware that the Berkeley Police Department (BPD) is investigating an attempted kidnapping incident involving an unknown suspect that approached a Ruth Acty Elementary School student after school today, March 4," Morthel wrote. "The student involved in this incident is safe and unharmed."

Morthel wrote that an individual in a white van or SUV "approached the student while they were walking on Rose Street and asked the student if they wanted to get into their vehicle."

The student ran home instead, Morthel wrote.

"We have shared this information with BUSD staff and asked them to be on alert and to call 911 if they witness any incident in which an unknown or suspicious vehicle appears to put a student at risk, especially as students come to and from school," she wrote.

BUSD did not provide any description of the driver and BPD also declined to share additional details, citing the active investigation.

Safety tips from BUSD

The following information was part of Monday's alert. It appears below in full.

The Berkeley Police Department advises that if a student believes someone may be following them, they should immediately start heading toward the nearest crowded place and call 911 for help.

Please review these other safety practices with your children. When walking to and from school:

  • Stay with a group whenever possible. Always walk with at least one friend, two or three is even better. 
  • If a stranger offers you a ride, say “NO!” and stay far away from their car.
  • If a stranger follows you on foot, get away from them as quickly as you can. You can run and yell loudly, “HELP!”
  • If a stranger follows you in a car, turn around and go in the other direction. 
  • Never leave school with a stranger. 
  • Tell a trusted adult if a stranger is hanging around the school, playground, or other public areas populated by young people, including restrooms.
  • Never accept things from a stranger when walking to or from school. 
  • If a stranger asks you a question, don’t talk to them. Run away. 

Here are some more general Tips for Walking Safely to School.

You can also sign up here to receive safety alerts from the Berkeley Police Department as they are posted.

Readers asked about this incident, which resulted in this report. Have questions about crime in Berkeley? Alert The Berkeley Scanner.