Over the past week, there have been numerous reports on social media and by word-of-mouth of "suspicious activity" in East Cobb generally, and near Dorset in particular. Many of these reports focus on a black Nissan Maxima. For for more details on this specific issue, you can check these links:
Citizens have a responsibility to be alert at all times for suspicious and/or illegal activity, and to notify the appropriate authorities as necessary. In Dorset, I like to think we go the extra step and watch out for our neighbors, as well as adopt practices to minimize the potential for these types of activities (e.g., what external signals do you leave that would "inform" someone you're out of town for several days?).
We should also be mindful that societal changes now bring more unmarked and older cars into our neighborhoods - including food deliveries (it's not just for pizza anymore) and package deliveries (it's not just UPS and FedEx delivering your "rush order" these days). Many companies use individuals to handle these tasks, and drivers are frequently driving older and perhaps "beat-up" cars and working these jobs to make ends meet. And that driver may sit in front of a house for 10-15 minutes while organizing packages and determining routes before zipping off in apparent suspicious behavior. (Note - I have personally discussed this issue with a UPS employee that routinely observes this legal and necessary activity.)
It is also extremely important to protect our children, and we have a responsibility to teach them the right things to do when approached by a stranger. The following list was issued several years ago the the Pennsylvania State Police, and can be helpful in having that discussion. These items can also be very helpful for adults.
Teach your child to always "CHECK FIRST" before he or she goes anywhere with anyone at any time for any reason. This includes going with relatives and people the child knows. They should always check first with the person who is caring for them at that time. If it is impossible to check with the caregiver, then the answer is "NO! You may not go."
Teach your child, when he or she is outside, to always walk with at least one other person. Groups of more than two are better.
When your child is outside the house, do not allow him or her to wear clothing or a backpack or other articles with his/her name visible on it. Children are more likely to trust someone who calls them by name.
Teach your child to stay more than an adult arm's length away from any car that is occupied by a person trying to talk to him/her, so that they cannot be reached by the person inside the car.
Teach your child if someone encourages him or her to get into a car, to help find a lost pet, or to leave with them for any reason, he or she should yell "NO" as loudly as possible and run to the closest adult whom they know and trust. Yelling "No," also called the POWER NO, indicates your child has been prepared for the situation.
Teach your child to run in the opposite direction from the one the car is facing. It is harder to drive in reverse than straight ahead.
Teach your child their full name, address and if, there is one, the "best" phone number (including area code) to call in case of an emergency. If you make it into a song, younger children may be more likely to remember it. If no phone number is reliable, teach your child to call 911 for help.
Teach your older child to pay attention to the color and make of the vehicle and/or its license information (state and number), the physical characteristics of the person(s), and where he or she was when approached. Suggest that this information be written down as soon as it can be done safely.
Remind your child to call 911 to report any attempted luring.
Make a daily note of the clothing your child is wearing just in case you need to provide that information later. Keep your child’s ID kit with a current school picture, or other recent photograph, handy.
Thank you for your help in keeping Dorset a safe place to live!
Dorset HOA, President