Niagara Gazette

March 28, 2014

City of Tonawanda police resolve kidnap attempt

By Michael Regan michael.regan@tonawanda-news.com
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — A man sought by Tonawanda City police this week, after a report that he attempted to lure a teenage girl into his car, was found on Wednesday evening, though the accusation turned out to be a miscommunication rather than a crime. 

The man, whose identity was not released, is a United States citizen of Ukrainian descent who speaks Russian. Police said after finding his gray Honda on a city street Wednesday evening and tracking the man to a nearby home, detectives interviewed him for more than an hour before determining that he was using a hand signal that the 17-year-old girl misinterpreted. 

“It was more of a language barrier problem than anything,” said Capt. Frederic Foels. 

The teenager reported on Saturday afternoon that a suspicious male in his 40s attempted to lure her into his vehicle at a bus stop on Delaware Street. The department issued a photo of the vehicle this week, which was captured by surveillance video on a passing NFTA bus. 

The girl also gave police her recollection of the vehicle’s New York license plate number — which turned out to be mostly but not entirely accurate — as investigators scoured databases that would narrow the search. 

Foels said it was the efforts of a city patrolman that led police to finding the car. The detectives interviewed the man, who lives in another nearby municipality, through the assistance of an interpreter. In the end, they determined that he committed no crime. 

“He admitted he was at the location,” Foels said “Everything he told us was truthful. We were happy we located the car and happy we were able to figure it out quickly.”