As of Friday afternoon, Belize City police say they have received no reports from parents of students at Queen’s Square Anglican School or elsewhere reporting that any children of theirs are missing.
As we reported last night, police received a statement, now in fact confirmed to be two joint statements, from students of the school reporting that four of their classmates – three girls and a boy – were put into a white van on Warrie Street, just around the corner from the school’s compound on Armadillo Street, and taken away.
There are no further details, but on the heel of multiple reports of attempted abductions of schoolchildren in Corozal, Orange Walk and even a reported sighting here in Belmopan, the concern level has been raised.
On Friday in Belize City, Deputy Officer in Command of Eastern Division, Senior Superintendent Edward Broaster, told reporters at a briefing that police are taking the reports very, very seriously, but are yet to confirm them. To do so, they need the public’s assistance.
“Yesterday, we got a report that four children were abducted, three female, one male. As of up to this hour, we have not have any report from any parents to confirm that their child have been abducted. We had canvassed the area yesterday. We have expended all our resources today in the area, checked with all the neighbors, the fire department included, everybody in that area to confirm that report, and we were unable to do so.
There’s a lot of panic that is going on with parents, and some parents today didn’t sent their children to school. We are saying to them that you can sent your child to school. We are just appealing to the community to be calm, and to ensure that if there’s anything out of the ordinary, or if you see anyone or any group or vehicle doing anything that they’re not supposed to be doing, especially as it related to children, please call us and we will go, and we will investigate the matter and we’ll deal with it, and we’ll ensure that it is dealt with.”
Police had intended to visit the school today to take a headcount of the children, but some parents reportedly did not send their children to school, frustrating that plan. However, there is nothing confirming the rumors such as a report by a parent.
While there is no description of the white van reportedly seen in Belize City, the incidents in Orange Walk and Corozal reportedly involved a white Toyota Prado SUV, which was seen in Corozal Town last week by a girl targeted by the driver, reported to be a white man with an American accent who offered money to her to come with him. The vehicle was also reportedly seen in the villages of Chan Chen and Patchakan, and earlier this week in Orange Walk Town, although police believe the alleged culprit may have changed vehicles.
Senior Superintendent Broaster says police are on the alert for vehicles of this type.
Senior Superintendent Edward Broaster
“Of course it’s a concern for us when these reports are being persistently reported. So what we are doing as it pertains to the specific report of this particular white van and individuals in there, we are looking for white vans, we are pulling white vans over and we are checking who are driving them and stuff like that.
So yes, we are looking into the situation and we are checking and being proactive in ensuring that no such thing occurs in this district.”
Police have checkpoints at the ready across the City, and the Mobile Interdiction Team (MIT) is out on the George Price Highway.
We note that two vans matching the description of the suspect vans are legitimately licensed to pick up and drop off school children, and it is entirely possible, Senior Superintendent Broaster said, that this may be the van the children saw.
However, while it is all speculation to date, Senior Superintendent Broaster says they will continue to treat the reports as true until they have proven them false.
Senior Superintendent Edward Broaster
“We have checkpoints up, across the city and on the Highway, and we had MIT who had checkpoints up on the Western Highway as well.
We expended all our resources yesterday. We searched roads that have not been used. We did a lot of patrols yesterday, looking for this particular vehcle.
Matters [like] this you cannot determine to be false, until you confirm that the report is not accurate. We treat it as real, until we can confirm that it was not factual and it was not accurate.”
According to reports, the Principal and Vice-Principal of the school were there until after 7:00 Thursday night, waiting to see if any parent would come make a report of missing children, but none did.