What started out with all the makings of a potential predator incident ended up an apparent hoax.
So explained Lyndhurst Police in describing the scenario that unfolded Monday, Oct. 15, at 6:30 p.m. at a Valley Brook Avenue location when two local 11-year-old boys related to officers what sounded like a disturbing setup.
The boys told police that a van pulled over to the curb and the driver allegedly offered them a chance to play an Xbox electronics game, then opened the van door, inviting them inside.
At that point, the boys told police, they ran away and phoned for help.
Based on the boys’ description of the van’s make, model and license plate, police said they were subsequently able to trace the van’s registered owner, a 27-year-old man from Passaic, and locate the van matching the description given.
The van owner told police he was doing construction work on Valley Brook Avenue earlier that day. He also allowed police to look inside the van and police said they found no evidence of any wrongdoing.
“He was fully cooperative with us,” said Lyndhurst Police Department Det. Capt. John Valente. “He happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Convinced that the Passaic man had been wrongfully accused, police returned to Lyndhurst to quiz each of the boys, separately, and, in each case, the boys admitted they’d “fabricated the story,” Valente said.
Why the boys chose to do that remains a mystery but their timing couldn’t have been worse, given the recent reports of strangers attempting to lure youngsters into their vehicles in Fairview, Hackensack, Fair Lawn, Maywood, Oradell and Ridgewood, all in Bergen County.
Thus far, no arrests have been made in connection with these incidents.
The consequence of the boys’ actions is that, “It just puts everyone on edge,” Valente said, “since it coincides with legitimate luring cases in Bergen County.”
As of press time, no charges have been brought against the Lyndhurst youths and Valente said it’s unlikely that, given their age, they’d be subject to any disciplinary action through the courts.
– Ron Leir