WHITTIER — A registered sex offender arrested on suspicion of trying to kidnap a young woman Wednesday is not believed to be tied to a series of attempted child abductions in the city over recent weeks, police said.
Officers arrested David Polanco, 41, of Whittier Wednesday while witnesses detained him after he allegedly grabbed and tried to kidnap an 18-year-old woman in the 6700 block of Greenleaf Avenue.
The woman met Polanco earlier in the day and spent several hours with him before he grabbed her around the waist and tried to pull her toward him, Whittier police Officer Bradley White said.
Witnesses detained Polanco until police arrived and arrested him on suspicion of kidnapping, officials said.
The incident was the fifth incident of attempted kidnapping or child annoyance reported in Whittier since Feb. 5, however the initial investigation revealed Polanco was not behind any of the other incidents, Lt. Kent Miller said.
“A photo line-up was conducted yesterday and shown to all the victims,” Miller said. “(Polanco) was not identified.”
A man tried to kidnap a 12-year-old boy from a swingset at Parnell Park Tuesday, but was thwarted when the victim’s brothers — ages 13 and 14 — punched the abductor and freed the boy, police said. The boys and the would-be kidnapper ran off in different directions.
He was described as a Latino man between 30 and 40, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, of stocky build, unshaven, with a scar on his right cheek, according to Whittier police. He wore a dark hooded sweat shirt, dark shorts and white shoes.
In a separate incident, a man in a dark blue pickup truck with tinted windows had a suspicious encounter with a 13-year-old girl on the morning of Feb. 27 as she walked along Whittier Boulevard at Strub Avenue, Lt. Steve Dean said.
The driver, described as Latino, about 35 years old, 5 feet 11 inches tall, 200 pounds with a goatee, offered the girl a ride to school, police said. She declined, and the man handed her pocket change before driving off.
A week earlier on Feb. 21, police received a report that a man had tried to kidnap two young girls near Founder’s Memorial Park, but one of the girls, 11, managed to free herself and the other girl, estimated to be 7.
The kidnapper — a Latino man between 25 and 35, 5 feet 11 inches to 6 feet tall and of medium to heavy build — snatched the 11-year-old girl and placed her in the rear seat of his car, where the younger girl was already seated and crying, officials said.
The man walked away from the vehicle, and the 11-year-old girl got herself and the other girl out of the car. The older girl went home and contacted police, while investigators were not able to locate the younger girl.
The vehicle used in the attempted kidnapping of the two girls was described as a red, mid-size convertible with a tan top and softball-sized dent in the right, rear fender.
The driver of a car with a strikingly similar description was involved in two incidents involving three teenage girls on Feb. 5, police said.
In the first incident, the man asked a teenage girl if she wanted a ride as she walked in the 13000 block of Broadway, authorities said. When she refused, the man stopped the car and opened the door, prompting the young woman to run away and call the police.
A similar incident took place hours later in the 6700 block of Washington Avenue, when witnesses reported that a man told two teenage girls to get in his red convertible.
But the girls did not call the police and had not been located Thursday, Miller said.
Though the three incidents involving a strikingly similar red convertible with a tan top and softball-sized dent in the right, rear fender were believed related, the suspect did not appear to match the description of Tuesday’s near-kidnapping at the park.
“Right now, as it stands, we have a subject we believe is involved in the Parnell park incident, separate from the suspect in the red convertible incidents,” Miller said.
Anyone with information on any of the incidents was asked to contact the Whittier Police Department Detective Bureau at 562-567-9270.