Police encourage parents' continued vigilance

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— Vigilance for suspicious activity around school-age children is evident in Routt County in the wake of the abduction and murder of a 10-year-old girl in Westminster.

The Steamboat Springs Police Department is encouraging people to “be a good witness” and report any suspicious behavior, as some community members already have been doing in the past couple of weeks.

School Resource Officer Nick Moore sent out an email this week to all Steamboat Springs schools reporting several incidents of suspicious behavior that have been relayed to him.

In the email, Moore wrote that a suspicious man was lingering near a school in Yampa in a blue sedan. A blue sedan, possibly a Buick, was reported again outside the Montessori school in Steamboat.

This week, Moore wrote that a middle-aged man and a teenager reportedly were taking photographs of Steamboat Springs High School from a red SUV, possibly a Ford Explorer.

Moore stressed that none of the three reports gives cause for particular alarm.

“I want to stress that there is no indication of any criminal activity or threats to the students or staff, but these incidences in light of recent cases in our state serve as a reminder to be vigilant,” he wrote.

He said to call Routt County Communications at 970-879-1110 to report any suspicious activity.

Steamboat Springs Police Sgt. Scott Middleton said Moore typically conducts extra patrols around the district. He said people likely are noticing his presence more — and noticing suspicious behavior more — because they're wary and vigilant in the wake of the Ridgeway case. And Middleton said that’s certainly not a bad thing.

“I think there’s going to be a certain amount of reaction to what’s happening on the Front Range, but we don’t want people to hesitate to call us,” he said. “We’d certainly not want someone to go unchecked.”

Jessica Ridgeway never arrived at school Oct. 5, and her body was found several miles away from her home Oct. 10. According to the Denver Post, police think a stranger abducted and killed her. The killer is still at large. Since the incident, reports of suspicious behavior poured into Front Range law enforcement agencies as they stepped up patrols and education for both students and families on what to watch for.

Middleton said to look for individuals who are routinely in the areas around schools, who drive by several times or appear there at odd hours.

“Just follow your instincts,” he said.

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com

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