West Seattleites learn about safety after recent kidnapping attempts

WEST SEATTLE - Residents in West Seattle came together Tuesday to learn how they could protect themselves against possible kidnapping attempts.

The problem is on the minds of many residents, after a couple recent incidents in White Center.

Earlier this month, a masked man walked into a woman's fenced back yard and tried to pick up a child.  The child's mother ran after the suspect, but he got away after dropping the child.

A few days later, police believe the same man stuck his hand through the window of another house on the same street. The suspect was able to escape in a stolen pickup truck, which police later recovered.

Leah Sullivan lives less than a mile from those incidents, and had her own scare earlier this year.

"Back in January, we had someone attempt to take the screen off," she says. "Well, they did take the screen off and attempt to get in our child's window."

She attended a meeting of the West Seattle Block Watch Captains' Network, to see if there are things she can do to keep her kids safe.

Karen Berge, a co-founder of the group, says Sullivan should see if there's a block watch in her neighborhood.

"Just the fact that other people are aware what's normal for your home and your neighborhood and you, I think that's huge."

Detectives with the Seattle Sex and Kidnapping Offender Detail agree that block watches help them do their job.

"We work the streets, we check on the sex offenders and kidnappers," says detective Timothy Fields.  "But they (the residents) live in the neighborhood, so when they see things that are suspicious and don't seem right, they can call us."

Fields doesn't know the latest on the White Center investigation, because that's in the King County Sheriff's Office jurisdiction. But he says parents everywhere should be on alert after these attempts.

"Watch your children, be aware of their surroundings and what's going on. Shouldn't let our kids just walk around freely."

Detectives say they not only keep track of sex offenders and where they live, they also monitor kidnappers. So they wanted to let people know that they can go online and see if a kidnapper lives in their neighborhood.  To see the site, click here.