Thursday, December 27th, 2007
By Margie Wuebker
New Bremen police probing car ride incident
  The New Bremen Police Department continues to investigate an incident involving two 14-year-old girls who voluntarily got into a car with a stranger seeking directions Wednesday night.
"Fortunately, nothing happened and they returned home unharmed," Police Chief Doug Harrod told The Daily Standard this morning. "This could have ended much differently."
The teens were walking along Washington Street (state Route 66) near Wendy's around 10:30 p.m. when a newer model green car pulled over and the lone occupant asked for directions. The driver - described as a man in his late teens or early 20s - left the scene but returned a short time later asking for more directions.
A conversation ensued with the girls telling the man they were looking for someplace to eat but local restaurants were closed. He reportedly suggested they take him to an undisclosed location and he, in turn, would get them something to eat.
"There were no threats or show of force," Harrod said. "He offered to buy them beer among other things."
The man, who claimed to be a construction worker from Toledo, said he moved to Celina two weeks ago. The girls later told police he had a hard hat and a toolbox in the back of the four-door vehicle.
They drove around for a time leaving the village and heading to the Maria Stein and St. Henry area, according to Harrod. The girls indicated at some point they wanted to go home and he dropped them off shortly before midnight in the area of North Main Street in New Bremen.
Police were contacted by the parents a short time later.
"We as parents need to make sure our children never get into a situation like this," Harrod said. "Children should never get into the vehicle of someone they don't know under any circumstances."
Neither girl was able to get a license plate number, although they described the man as having a dark complexion and short brown hair. He reportedly wore a long-sleeved shirt, blue jeans and a white baseball cap bearing the letters "NY."
Authorities want to talk with the man. Anyone having information about his identity or whereabouts should call New Bremen Police at 419-629-3371 or the Auglaize County Sheriff's Office, 419-394-5227.
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