October 1, 2022

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Nanaimo RCMP say a potential child-luring incident was averted after a 53-year-old man came to Vancouver Island to meet with a young girl.


Police say they were called to Robins Park in Nanaimo, B.C., on June 29 after two city workers saw the mismatched pair speaking together around 1:30 p.m.


“The witnesses said that the two were siting very close to each other in the bleachers and by their interactions and body gestures it did not appear that it was a father-daughter relationship,” said RCMP in a release Monday.


After the city workers observed the man speaking with the girl – who is 11 to 15-years-old, police say – the workers phoned police.


Mounties then came to the park to speak with both the man and the girl.


‘COULD HAVE ENDED TERRIBLY’


The youth told police that she met the man through a social media platform called V-sing, a karaoke app that lets people share videos of themselves singing and chat through a private messenger.


The girl told police that she thought the man was 25 and that they had been speaking for about nine months, including through daily FaceTime calls on her cellphone.


The youth told police that the pair were “nothing more than good friends,” and when police spoke with the man he said the same thing.


However, while the man claimed the two were only friends, police say “he did not deny that his intentions could be seen as being sexual in nature.”


The man also told police that he had arrived in Nanaimo earlier that day after traveling from his home in the U.S. Mid-West.


U.S. INVOLVEMENT


Mounties say there was not enough evidence to arrest the man at the time, but he was ordered to leave the country.


Police say the Canada Border Security Agency was able to confirm he had travelled back to the U.S. later that day.


“This investigation is being aggressively pursued by this detachment as well by the Department of Homeland Security in the United States,” said Const. Gary O’Brien of the Nanaimo RCMP.


“Investigators would also like to acknowledge the witnesses who provided such timely evidence. If it was not for their astute observations and phone call, this incident could have ended terribly for this young lady and her family,” he said.


Police have also released several tips for keeping kids safe online:


  • Try to engage them conversation about their online activity

  • Know who your children’s online friends are

  • Monitor what apps and websites that they are using and when

  • Do not allow cell phones, tablets or any electronic device in their bedrooms

  • Tell your children to keep their location settings private


More internet safety tips can also be found on the Canadian Child Prevention Centre website.

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