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Local News

May 11, 2013

Area cops: Abductions can happen anywhere

This area isn’t immune to abductions, local law enforcement officials said days after three women escaped from a Cleveland, Ohio, home after vanishing about a decade ago. 

“That could happen anywhere at all,’’ Lt. Douglas Brenner of the Oneonta Police Department said Thursday.

But precautions can be taken toward personal safety and safeguarding children and teenagers, area police said, and the public’s eye is not only important in solving crimes but also in acting as a community watchdog.

“If you see something, say something” is a public awareness campaign of the federal Department of Homeland Security to raise public awareness of terrorism, related crimes and the importance of reporting suspicious activities. This week, local law enforcement reiterated the approach in regard to local communities and neighborhoods.

Cleveland police are holding a suspect accused of abducting and holding three women in captivity for about 10 years after they were reported missing by their families. They disappeared separately and were between the ages of 14 and 20 when they vanished. One woman, who has a 6-year-old daughter, escaped Monday and called 911, after which police rescued the two other women.

Craig DuMond, Delaware County’s undersheriff, agreed that abductions are possible locally.

“The one thing I have learned on this job is to never say ‘never’ — anything’s possible, certainly,” DuMond said Thursday. “Now, in today’s world, you can’t take any chances.”

Village police departments may have neighborhood watch programs, he said, but the sheriff’s deputies in rural areas like Delaware County, where law enforcement is spread thin, rely on the public to help identify suspicious activities.

“The community is a significant partner is helping us,” DuMond said. Investigators said the county hasn’t had any abduction cases like the one in Cleveland, but steps can be take to avoid such criminal scenarios, he said.

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