By Kirsty Topping
WOMEN have been urged to be on their guard after a van driver tried to abduct a teenage girl at a bus stop.
The 14-year-old was waiting for a bus in Bathgate, West Lothian, when she was approached by a man who tried to force her into a white van.
The girl, who was left badly traumatised by her ordeal, managed to escape and was helped by a passerby. The attacker jumped back into his vehicle and sped off.
Det Sgt Paul Carroll, the officer in charge of the investigation, said the victim was
“shaken’ by the incident but had been helping police with their investigation.
“The man got out and walked towards the bus stop and approached the girl. He grabbed hold of her arm and demanded that she get into the small van.
“She was completely taken by surprise when he grabbed her.
“I think it’s been a combination of her wrestling free and maybe him being spooked by passing motorists that caused him to drive off.
“It seems to have happened so quickly but the girl got the impression that something had unnerved him. “
DS Carroll said the girl remained at the bus stop after the man drove off and was helped by a man called Sean, who took her to the nearby Tesco. Police appealed for Sean to come forward.
DS Carroll continued:
“She did notice a jogger on the same side as the bus stop just after the van had left.
“The road is reasonably busy with traffic – it’s the main road between Bathgate and Blackburn. There’s also a Tesco store and a service station at the back of the bus stop, so it’s quite a busy route with shoppers as well. “
The incident will revive chilling memories of the case of Vicky Hamilton, the 15-year-old who was last seen alive at a bus stop in Bathgate in 1991. She was lured to her death by serial killer Peter Tobin.
Lisa Currie, 22, from Livingston, said: “I can’t believe that’s happened. It’s becoming a joke around here – you’re getting scared to walk the streets.”
Lesley-Ann Byers, 29, from Blackburn, said: “It’s shocking that this has happened. I use that bus stop all the time and although I know I can take care of myself, it’s really scary that that’s happened.”
But DS Carroll added:
“I would not want people to be unduly worried. This appears to be an isolated incident.
“I would advise people to take normal precautions if they have to travel alone, such as letting someone know where you are going, when you plan to arrive and, if possible, to carry a mobile phone. “
The attacker is described as white, 5ft 11ins, aged 20 to 30, thin build, tanned. He had dark stubble or a beard, especially around the chin, and a wide jaw.
He was wearing a light-coloured long sleeved top, light blue jeans, light coloured training shoes and a light coloured woolly hat. He had a rough
voice with a local accent.
Anyone with any information can contact Lothian and Borders Police on 0131 311 3131, or Crimestoppers in confidence and complete anonymity on 0800 555 111.