Suspect Arrested in Highland Park/Highwood Child Luring Incident
Parents encouraged to discuss safety precautions with children
Highland Park, Illinois (August 24, 2020) – On Wednesday, August 19, 2020, the Highwood Police Department reported that during the course of an investigation into a Child Luring incident which had occurred in their community on August 18, 2020, it was discovered that the suspect had a second verbal encounter with the same minor child in Highland Park during the early afternoon hours on August 19, 2020.
Highland Park Police immediately initiated an investigation into this separate occurrence and a person of interest quickly emerged. The following morning the suspect in both cases, Mazher Syed, 42, of Waukegan, IL., had been positively identified and later surrendered to Highland Park detectives on August 20, 2020.
There have been no other reported incidents involving this suspect or his vehicle in Highwood or Highland Park; however, police are sharing this arrest information with other law enforcement agencies in the area.
The Highland Park and Highwood incidents were reviewed with the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office and the suspect was charged with:
- Child Luring – 720 ILCS 5/10-5.1-(a)(2) – Class 4 Felony – 2 Counts
- Child Luring – 720 ILCS 5/10-5.1-(a)(3) – Class 4 Felony – 2 Counts
The City of Highland Park recommends that parents discuss safety and stranger awareness with their children. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), attempted abductions occur most often when a child is going to or from school or school-related activities or while children are outside playing near the street. Individuals will typically try to lure children with offers of a ride, candy, money, or a pet. Many abduction attempts involve an individual driving a vehicle and frequently target girls and children between the ages of 10-14.
The NCMEC’s KidSmartz program teaches personal safety through interactive, downloadable materials that parents can use to begin conversations on this topic. Materials are available for children in grades K-5 and are available in English and Spanish.
With hands-on activities, role-playing scenarios, and sample language, parents and guardians can help children self-advocate and understand how to protect themselves from a potentially dangerous encounter. Parents should also teach children to immediately tell a trusted adult about any incident in which they are approached by an unknown person. Ensuring that children know their full names, home addresses, telephone numbers, and how to dial 911 is also important in the event that a parent or guardian is not the adult reporting the situation.
More information about the KidSmartz child safety program from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children can be found at kidsmartz.org.