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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Another White Van

I've received three versions of the email so far, with long threads of addresses, names, sometimes phone numbers for authenticity attached. And my child has heard the most horrific stories at school, on the playground and in the lunchroom. His eyes are wary as we drive home, scanning the streets, left to right.

Another white van.

Years ago, living in Washington, DC, I grew fearful of white vans after the then-reported-to-be lone, white male sniper was reported to be driving one. Shooting people from one. When they caught "him", of course, he was a they, and they were black, and they weren't driving any vehicle close to a white van.

Now years later, in Winston-Salem, a white van is reported by email to be shadowing places children play. In one version of the email, the owner of the van is a failed-to-register child sex offender with a warrant out on him. Another declares that children living in a neighborhood off Peacehaven have actually seen a shadowy figure in the van wearing large sunglasses and a hooded sweatshirt. My nervous reaction is to laugh and think of the wanted poster of the Unabomber.

But then I remember the first white van, the Sniper van, and how I never realized there were so many white vans on the road as I did when a lone, white, male shooter was behind the wheel of one of them. And that fear I drove with for weeks, and I mean sweating, palpable fear, ended up being not accurate. All along I should have been scared of another vehicle entirely, of other men.

Here is the least alarmist of the three emails, with personal details X'd out.

FYI: Safety Alert for W-S kids / White VW Van / Case Numberbelow

THIS is IMPORTANT!!! It looks to be VERY real. It seems a child predator may be casing kids & homes along Peace Haven Road. ~Start with thebottom/first email & read through all the emails & see the evidence. Pass italong to EVERYONE and tell others. If anyone hears more information please pass it along as well. I am also sharing it with others not along PeaceHaven Road but who have kids in between here & Greensboro.
XXX

*********************************************************************
Everyone-
Thank you for sharing this information. It is of great concern to me.After searching for this vehicle information on
this particular tag is registered to XXX (date of birth XXX) for a 1990 VW van. Of course, I do not actually know if XXX was the driver of the van on the dates in question. However, the tagnumber you provided in the email we received is registered to XXX who has also (according to 4NCRecords.com) been charged with engaging in sexual intercourse on a public street (G'boro XXX). I have the case number forthis particular offense and will see if I can get a copy of the G'boro police department report to see the specifics of this charge. XXX is listed in 4NCRecords.com's records as a white male. The latest address Icould find for him on 4NCRecords was from a 2004 speeding ticket case and was XXX which is off of Northwest Blvd(according to! Map Quest).


We should all be extremely alert in light of this information. Also, has the person who made the police report talked with Officer XXX to see what additional information he has learned since the initial report was filed and whether he has actually spoken with the owner of this van? I will let you know if I am able to get a copy of the G'boro police report.

XXX

*********************************************************************
XXX writes: XXX XXX has sent this to many mothers of children in the
neighborhoods along Peacehaven. The van described below is under
investigation and the police say there IS reason to be concerned.
They have endorsed this grass-roots neighborhood watch. Please pass
the message along to others in your address book.
***********************************************************************
Good evening everyone,
A few days ago, I sent out an email about a white van that seemed to be "casing" the neighborhood. It came by at least 3 times last Monday and slowed down whenever it was near children playing or walking in the neighborhood.
Today (Thursday), it came through again. It came into the neighborhood at XXX and Peace Haven, turned left into the cul de sac on XXX, slowed near the XXX's home where kids were playing. One of the children told XXX and she hopped into her car and followed the van down XXX where it U-turned at the end of the street and proceeded back up XXX slowly. She did manage to get the tag and we have reported this to the police. This van is white, an older model Volkswagen - squared top with tinted windows. No one has gotten a good look at the driver yet. If you see this van in our neighborhood, please call the police at 773-7700. The case number is: XXX and the officer's name is XXX. The tags on the van read: XXX North Carolina Plates. If anyone knows anything about this van, please reply to all and let us know. In the meantime, please keep an extra eye out and be sure kids travel in pairs or even groups. Please forward this info to anyone who may not be on this email list. Thank you!

XXXX

EDIT, 8:03 am: Jay put this new email in the comments.

Dear Friends,

Officer Walsh just left my home. He has thoroughly investigated the White VW Van that has been spotted in our neighborhood. The records found and distributed were incorrect. There are more than one person with the same name and according to police based on either drivers' license number or social security number, this particular individual has a clean record. As to why he was in our neighborhood he was here with his girlfriend to pick up a dance student at the home across the street from ours. This is why he slowed down near our driveway as he was looking for the correct house number. Unfortunately, this family was not on the email loop at that time.

I would very much appreciate it if you would again forward this message to anyone you may have previously forwarded the alerts to. I would hate for this man's reputation to be ruined. I do want to tell everyone how grateful I am to live in a neighborhood and town where so many parents are empowered to keep our children safe. The rapid way this email got around was unbelievable and quite effective! I for one am very pleased to know that this person is NOT a threat and that we can all relax just a bit.

The intention of the original email was as a tool for awareness and protection for all of our kids.

Thank you.
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