CHARLESTON — Police officers and school staff members stepped up their presence on school grounds Friday following an attempted child abduction that was reported Thursday near Jefferson Elementary School.

According to a press release from the Charleston Police Department, officers responded at 3:30 p.m. Thursday to the 1000 block of Jefferson Avenue, one block east of Jefferson school, regarding a reported attempted child abduction.

The police received a report that there were two occupants of a small blue car, with possibly a dent in the side of the door, who attempted to entice a 10-year-old female student into their vehicle. The vehicle was reported to be driven by an upper/middle-aged white male wearing a black shirt and blue shorts. The passenger was reported to be an upper/middle-aged white female wearing an orange long sleeve T-shirt and jeans.

Detective Tony West said mid-day Friday that the Charleston Police Department has received a few tips, including some from neighboring communities, on the incident but no solid information yet. He said the department has stepped up the presence of its officers around Jefferson and other Charleston schools in response to the incident.

Law enforcement officials are asking for the public’s help in locating the two suspects. Anyone who has information regarding this incident is urged to contact the Charleston Police Department at 217-345-8422, or message the department through Facebook or call 911. Information can also be left by contacting Coles County Crime Stoppers at 866-345-8488; anyone giving information remains anonymous.

“If you know any information regarding this incident, please contact (the police),” said Jim Littleford, superintendent of the Charleston school district.

The superintendent said he sent a notice at 7 a.m. Friday to parents and district staff members to inform them about the reported attempt of child abduction.

Littleford said he has asked all of the district’s building principals to increase their monitoring of the areas where students are dropped off and picked up on school grounds and to report any unusual activity there. He said staff members at Carl Sandburg Elementary School and other schools are also speaking to students about what they should do if they are approached by strangers.

Jefferson Principal Rob Ulm said the 10-year-old girl who was approached Thursday did an excellent job of saying no to the suspects, walking away, and telling responsible adults about the incident. He said staff members at Jefferson were asked to reiterate these and other safety steps to their students Friday to ensure the children know what to do if they are ever in this situation.

“We want to make sure our students are safe,” Ulm said.

Contact Stroud at rstroud@jg-tc.com or 217-238-6861.

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