Nfld. & Labrador

Police investigating possible attempted abduction and luring in St. John's

Three incidents in recent days have police issuing a warning about a man who they say attempted to abduct a woman and lure other people in St. John's. One woman said she fought off a man with a similar description.

RNC says three incidents happened over recent days

The RNC says it's investigating three incidents that happened in recent days, including one in which a man attempted to force a woman into a red sedan. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Three incidents in recent days have police issuing a warning about a man who they say attempted to abduct a woman and lure other people in St. John's.

Const. James Cadigan, spokesperson for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, said a man attempted to force a woman into a small, red sedan in the centre area of the city.

The man is described as being Black, tall and skinny.

Additionally, the RNC said it's also investigating two other incidents involving a man matching the same description. 

According to police, the first incident occurred in which a man operating a similar vehicle approached a woman and attempted to lure her into the vehicle in the east end of St. John's. In the other incident, the man made "verbal comments" to two youths attempting to lure them toward him in the downtown area of St. John's.  

The RNC said it's investigating these incidents and is attempting to establish any connection between them. 

Kate Riche told CBC News she's a victim of a similar incident, in which a man of the same description asked her if she needed a ride home on Paton Street, near Prince of Wales Collegiate, on Wednesday.

Riche said the man got out of his car and grabbed her when she declined his offer. She said she hit him in the groin or stomach with her knee and punched him as hard she could to break free. The man drove away, Rich said, but pulled into a nearby parking lot.

Kate Riche told CBC News she was attacked on Paton Street on Wednesday. (Mike Simms/CBC)

"I was worried he was waiting down there for me, so I texted my boyfriend who lives in this area and I explained to him what happened and I needed him to walk up this road and meet me at St. Andrew's [Elementary] and walk home with me," Riche said. 

"I didn't want to walk home by myself."

Riche said the man drove away "erratically" after seeing her boyfriend.

Cadigan said the information released on Thursday is everything that's available right now.

"We wanted to make sure that the public was alerted that we had received these reports … [to] ensure safety and preparation, based on this information, when you're out and about in the community," he said.

Police are searching for the man and asking anyone who sees a driver matching the description, or who can provide more information, to contact the RNC. 

"Any time you hear incidents of this nature it's scary, it's frightening," Cadigan said.

"Observe as [many] descriptors as possible.… Do not approach this person. Ensure you have a phone on you if you go out in the community."

Riche said she posted about her incident on Facebook and was met with a flood of messages from women who shared similar stories, in the same area of the city, about a man with a similar description. 

"I'm very nervous to be out by myself," she said. "Even just walking that two minutes to the gas station at 7 p.m. is something that gives me a lot of anxiety and it shouldn't. I shouldn't be scared to walk up the road."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Henrike Wilhelm