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December 16, 2010 permalink
Think those toys you drop in the Christmas donation box go to kids? Think again. In Middletown Pennsylvania a costumed Santa returning from a toy drive offered a few of them to young kids. They ran to police and had him arrested. Expand for the text story, here is the video (flv).
UPDATE: 'Suspicious' Santa misguided, but well-intentioned
Two Dauphin County boys ran to their parents after a Santa Claus look-a-like offered them toys out of a van. It sounds like a case of stranger danger, but police say it was all a big misunderstanding.
A CBS 21 News viewer recognized the description of the man after the story aired Tuesday night and called him. Then, the man turned himself in. The situation initially seemed shady and his description made police think he was taking advantage of Santa.
Sunday on Columbia Street in Middletown, two boys were approached by a white van. A man opened a door and asked their age, then offered them gifts. The kids do the right thing and get police.
"The description given is an old man, white with white beard, jeans and a baseball cap. He may look like Santa Claus and may be using that to get kids in the van," said Det. Dave Sweitzer, of the Middletown Police, in an initial reaction.
It turns out the man is part of a church group. On that day, he had leftover toys and was handing them out to underprivileged kids.
"He looks at it now and says, 'I made a bad choice.' He was extremely sorry. He wanted to press that upon us and the people alerted," said Sweitzer.
Police are not releasing the man's name and no charges will be filed. In the future, he said he will notify police and come up with a better way to give away presents.
Police do want to let kids know that although this situation turned out to be innocent, in situations like this, kids should get away and call police.
Police in Dauphin County are warning parents about a suspicious vehicle that was spotted approaching children.
Middletown Borough Police say on Sunday, a white full size van drove up to 2 boys playing outside on Columbia Street.
Officers tell us that the driver was an older man who asked the boys how old they were, and offered to give them a present.
The boys walked away and weren't hurt.
They told police they thought a child was in the back seat.
Source: WHP-TV Harrisburg