Child IDs offered at free event

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Routt County is the type of place where people leave their unattended cars running and their homes unlocked.

Child abductions, many think, are a problem experienced in larger cities, not in small-town Northwest Colorado.

"We want to think of this and make this a very safe place to live, but you never know when someone bad will come into our town," Steamboat Springs police Capt. Joel Rae said. "It can happen here. It could occur in Steamboat just like it could occur anywhere else."

Should a child abduction occur here, local law enforcement agencies and the Elk Mountain Masonic Lodge want to ensure that parents and guardians have important information about their children on hand and in a format easily transferable to police.

On Saturday, the Elk Mountain Masonic Lodge, with help from law enforcement agencies, will host a Child Identification and Abduction Awareness Day in Steamboat. Beginning at 9 a.m. at the Masonic lodge at 111 Eighth St., parents can get free child identification cards that include a photograph and digital thumb prints of their children. None of the information on the cards will be kept or stored by the Masons or law enforcement agencies.

"This is for the kids, period," Mason John Orrell said. "We got that assurance from law enforcement."

Instead of ink, which is not recommended for use with infants and very young children, a digital scanner will be used to obtain thumb prints, making the ID cards available to all ages.

In addition to a photo and thumbprints, the ID cards include the child's name, address, school, doctors and areas for parents to identify distinguishing marks and other information that could help track their child in the event of an abduction. The ID cards are for the parents to take home and keep in a safe place, Mason David Moran said.

Law enforcement officials can use the information on the ID card to immediately put out an Amber Alert with detailed information about the abducted child.

"It's really essential," Rae said. "Everything from updated photographs to fingerprint information, which can be very key in us being able to track and locate a missing child, heaven forbid an abduction should occur.

"Timeliness is of the essence in these cases. The sooner we're able to get the info out there the sooner we can disseminate it to other law enforcement agencies."

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