Men who shouted 'get her in the van' weren't trying to kidnap schoolgirl, police say
Two men who shouted at a third to '˜get her in the van' were not trying to genuinely kidnap a schoolgirl, police believe.
Officers believe the incident was just a bad joke, though it left 12-year-old Annabelle Adamthwaite-Smith distraught and parents living in the area worried about their children's safety.
Police are still trying to trace the men, who approached the Hodgson Academy pupil as she walked down Kylemore Avenue in Bispham, to speak to them about their behaviour, it is understood.
Sgt Mario Fa, from Blackpool Police, also praised the youngster, who he said did the right thing, and said officers will still be patrolling area, close to North Shore Golf Club, to reassure parents.
"After conducting a thorough investigation including CCTV and house to house enquiries, we believe that this was not a genuine abduction attempt of a 12-year-old girl," he said.
"It’s possible this may have been linked to some anti-social behaviour incidents in the same area that day.
“A comment was made by a man about getting the girl into a van which has understandably scared her.
"She has done the correct thing in hurrying home, telling her parents and they in turn have rightly reported it to us.
“We always treat these kind of reports seriously and would urge parents to remain vigilant and if they have any concerns or would like to tell us about any suspicious activity, to speak to a local officer or call us on 101.
“We will continue to have officers on patrol in the area to reassure local residents.”
A manhunt for the men, who were driving a silver minivan, was launched after Annabelle was targeted at around 5.30pm on Sunday.As she was walking to the Spar on Bispham Road, the van pulled over before one of the men inside shouted at another in the street to 'get her in the van'.
Annabelle ran home and told her horrified parents, who called in police.
Her mum Kellie later spoke of her daughter's upset, which left her in floods of tears, as door-to-door enquiries were carried out.