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Child Lurer In NJ Putting Parents On High Alert

By Christine.Coppa |

I speak to my father everyday. (Okay, lying! We speak multiple times a day.) When he called me yesterday at 8 AM to see what JD and I were up to, I told him we were going to Van Saun Park. He launched into an irrational spiel about the man who has been attempting to lure children in Bergen County.

The only reason I count this as irrational is because it was a gorgeous, sunny day yesterday, perfect for the park and mostly because I am well aware of this creeper trying to kidnap children in our area. Not to mention, JD is five. The child is never out of my sight except when he’s at school which is on lockdown (you can’t enter the school without buzzing and showing your face. There’s a procedure for when other ppl pick up your child too). Of course, he’s with family and close friends when I’m on a date or just working overtime.

Honestly, I am not a helicopter mom, but when we are out and about he is with me. We hold hands. He pees in the ladies room with me in the stall. “It takes a second for someone to snatch him,” my dad said. “No one has a second when it comes to MY BABY,” I said.

Moments later Uncle Carlo started with a barrage of text messages because my father alerted him (And because my family is crazy.) that all included links to articles about the creeper. “DO NOT GO TO VAN SAUN,” he texted. “ABDUCTOR IS THERE, BEWARE” … “LISTEN TO ME, I AM THE GODFATHER” … “BRING JACK TO THE SEA IT IS SAFER” … “I KNOW ALL.”I turned the ringer off on my iPhone and made a picnic lunch. As I packed turkey sandwiches, cookies, cherry tomatoes and fruit, I explained to JD that we were going to the “big park.” (He knows Van Saun as the “big park” because it is huge, has a train, carousel and is home to the Bergen County Zoo. Last time we went to Van Saun I got stung by a freakin’ bee! Ouch.)

We talked about holding hands and sticking together with my single mom friend, Mareesa and her son Cristiano who is JD’s age. We talked about stranger danger. I told him people he doesn’t know who have puppies and toy cars are liars. Unless mommy is with you, you can’t pet a puppy and a stranger is not allowed to give you a toy. I’ve declined candy from random people. Sorry, but I don’t want my son thinking it’s OK for a stranger to give him candy. It’s not OK. Can Amy, Ed or any of my other friends give him a snack? Yes.

JD is well aware who the “safe people” are when it comes to babysitting, bathing, and bathroom help. He also knows to SCREAM, “HELP!” if someone he doesn’t know comes near him. I drill it into his head that I am the keeper of his secrets and we are attempting the “safe word” tactic. Carlo, Bri and I have a safe word. We all still know it. I am not telling you what it is. I have a “safe word” with my neighbors. If I text or say it, they know something is wrong. Remember on 90210 when Donna called David, “Dave?” Yeah. Ah, yes adult safe words work, too.

As for yesterday, the boys had a blast and they were never out of our sight. When they took to the big play structure, they were told to stay together and Batman and Spiderman did stay together as Mareesa and I tag-teamed the area since they were running around like nuts! Mareesa’s mom told her the same thing my dad and Carlo did—we both imagined that various people were predators. Until their children ran into their arms, yelling “Daddy.” Paranoid much?

Enjoy these pictures!

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Child Lurer In Bergan County Puts Parents On Edge

JD & Cristiano

Best buds! (I met his mommy when I was freelancing at We're single mom besties for life.)

More from me:

Stranger Danger: Some Random Peeps Approached My Kid For Info!

What Makes A Family?

Date Night: Does Your Kid Get Mad When You Go Out?

Please friend me on Facebook (so you can read my 9000 status updates a day) and follow me @JDSMOM2007 on twitter. Visit For more info on where to buy Rattled! click here.

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About Christine.Coppa



Christine Coppa is the author of Rattled! (Broadway Books, 2009), the creator of's Storked blog and a freelance fashion market editor. Her son, Jack, is 5 and they hail from North NJ. Her work has appeared in Glamour, First for Women, Redbook and Parenting among other publications.

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9 thoughts on “Child Lurer In NJ Putting Parents On High Alert

  1. Gina says:

    Why do you lie to your father multiple times a day?

  2. Christine.Coppa says:

    Hi Gina, you misread the line. It means I speak to my father everyday, multiple times a days. We are very close. How often do you communicate with your Dad? Thanks for always chiming in :)

  3. Gina says:

    Ohhhhh I get it. I thought you meant there were things you didn’t want him to know because he would worry. My dad and I email almost every day, talk on the phone weekly.

  4. Christine.Coppa says:

    @Gina, yep … he calls me daily multiple times a day. I wish I could say it bothered me but he is quite ill and I cherish our calls and visits. I’m a lucky girl and my father is a great man – it’s nice to hear you too, have active communication with your dad! We all should. WE ALL SHOULD

  5. Gina says:

    When I was little, I had a white dress embroidered with a red heart and the words “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.” Still true!

  6. Christine.Coppa says:

    @Gina, I did not have a dress like that.

  7. Uncle Carlo says:

    Someone should find this guy and make him disappear.

  8. Adrienne says:

    Does anyone have any guides or links to a site that outlines how to talk to your kids about stranger danger. Age appropriate of course. My child is only 3 and I would a love to know the best way to approach it!

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