Police step up patrols after two reports of strangers trying to lure children

BETTENDORF, Iowa - Police say they're increasing their presence in a Bettendorf neighborhood after receiving two separate reports of cars approaching children and trying to lure them in.

According to Capt. Justin Paul, both incidents happened near the intersection of DeerTrail Road and Treeline Drive.

12-year-old Gabriel Ritcher said he was approached while riding his bike on August 14.

"They said, 'Hey I have a whole lot of candy in the back. If you want some, you can get in the car and sit on my lap," said Ritcher.

According to Ritcher, the vehicle was a tan colored SUV and was being driven by teenagers.

"I thought it was some stupid teenager joke," said Ritcher.

At first, he said he tried to just brush them off. However, the strangers wouldn't give up. Gabriel then said he ran home to tell his dad.

His father, Jay Ritcher, said he was terrified

Ritcher called 9-1-1 and a Scott County Sheriff's Deputy responded to the scene to investigate.

Ritcher decided he wanted to alert his neighbors, so he posted in an online group.

"Late at night, I put another post on Ring neighborhood watch," he said.

Soon after, a neighbor told Ritcher that the same exact thing happened to her daughter and some friends on August 15.

Capt. Paul said police are now treating the incident as suspicious activity.

Police also say the vehicle incidents in the two reports are different.

"Whether it's teenagers out doing something foolish or something more serious than that, it's just important for everyone to be aware of their surroundings," said Capt. Paul.

Anyone with information related to the incident should contact Bettendorf Police.

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