YARD sale warning

Tuesday, May 22nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A disturbing story from a weekend yard sale in North Tulsa. Someone tried to lure away a little girl, not ten feet from her mother and a dozen strangers.

KOTV's Lori Fullbright is here to explain what happened this is such a scary story because lots of people have garage sales this time of year...and we generally let our defenses down in the safety of our own front yard, but, apparently, we can't do that again.

Serena Hagen is nearly three years old and she trusts just about anybody, including strangers, especially those strangers who came to her mom's yard sale this weekend. Christy Hagen, Worried Mom: "She was 8-10 feet in front of me when a neighbor brought her to me and said, a man was trying to get her in the car." Fullbright to Serena: "What was he saying?" Hagen: "Let's go bye-bye." Christy was momentarily distracted by two people haggling over an item and never dreamed someone would try to take her baby in broad daylight in front of a dozen people. Christy: "You never think anything about it. I've had lots of sales and there all always kids and they wander and look at the toys. I just couldn't believe it could happen with her that close to me, being right there."

Parents generally worry about such things at public places like parks and stores... and even those parents who've taught their children not to go with strangers, it still happens, as evidenced by this experiment we did with an undercover police officer, he lured away child after child with a story about a missing puppy. Of course, Serena is too young to understand such things now, but police suggest you tell them anyway, and often. They suggest you play the what-if game with kids so they'll know how to respond to many different scenarios. Teach children to yell ‘no’ and run away if a stranger tries to get them in a car. Create a code word so kids know not to go if the person doesn't have the secret word. And, never let your guard down. Christy: "Very scary, I went through the whole range of emotions, upset and crying and then getting mad and wishing he'd come back so I could hurt him. God was looking out for us."

Christy did call police but since she didn't actually see the man and she doesn't personally know the neighbor who saved her little girl; they don't have much to go on. The best advice is to have a relative or friends watch the kids during a garage sale or yard sale, too many strangers and too many distractions.