CRIME TEAM: How safe is your child on the playground? - Tucson News Now

CRIME TEAM: How safe is your child on the playground?

Marana Police Department Sgt. Chris Warren talks with children at a local park. (Source: Tucson News Now) Marana Police Department Sgt. Chris Warren talks with children at a local park. (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

In Southern Arizona, our children are fortunate enough to be able to play outside almost year-round.

Seeing kids on swings or playing tag at a park are a common sight across our community. Unfortunately, possible child predators try to capitalize on that.

In our KOLD News 13 Crime Team Investigation, we worked with parents and the Marana Police Department to see how vulnerable children can be.

In our investigation, Marana Police Sgt. Chris Warren went undercover, pretending to be someone looking for a lost dog.  The results of our investigation should alarm every parent.

"I was walking around the park several times where I was hoping a parent would have caught on," Warren said.

He approached child after child, asking if they had seen Dory, a dog pictured on a fake flier we made. An eye-opening eight out of nine children he approached, left with him.

In some cases, the parents were just feet away.

"My reaction was like wow - like it's that easy - preying on their innocence," said Sarah De La Cruz, whose 5-year-old son Luis left with Warren.

Luis' younger brother, quickly followed behind.

"It's a little overwhelming," De La Cruz said.

In another case, Warren approached 5-year-old Jocelyn.

By the end of the exchange, she along with three other girls were on their way out of the park with Warren.

"It was shocking and embarrassing - parenting fail," said Jocelyn's mom Cynthia Hernandez.

"It's pretty scary for me to think it's that easy - she's so trusting that she was easily seduced by a pet - a dog," said Roberto Hernandez.

The kid's reasons for going ranged from Warren "being nice" to "he said he had a lost dog,"   

Warren said having so many kids leave with a stranger because of a lost dog flier, should concern every parent.

"I am shocked, I think you might expect one or two - but to have that many is very eye-opening for us," he said.

Most of the parents we spoke with before our investigation said they had taught their kids about stranger danger repeatedly.

Many said now it's time to go back to square one.

The National Crime Prevention Council has advice on how and what to teach your children.  You can get that information by clicking here.

Your local police department may have information as well.

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