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Napa police

Some Napa parents expressed concerned for their children’s safety on social media earlier this month after a man driving a silver sedan reportedly approached two teenage girls in Browns Valley, telling them to “Get in the car.”

Officers following up on the case said that the man was just a rideshare driver looking for his passengers, according to Napa Police.

On Feb. 2, the driver was attempting to pick up a fare near the intersection of Broadmoor and Dartmouth drives where the girls were approached, police said. The driver thought the girls were his customers, but when he approached them, they took off running.

Police said they contacted the actual rideshare customer who confirmed the driver’s statement. The customer and driver even discussed the incident that night, police said, because the driver was concerned that he had scared the teenagers.

What made the encounter even more chilling was that a second incident, seemingly similar to this one, was also reported on social media. That incident, which occurred earlier that day at Century Oaks Park in Browns Valley, was not criminal either, Napa Police Sgt. Amy Hunter said Tuesday.

A man sitting on a bench waved to some children, Hunter said.

At the time, this gesture was interpreted and reported on social media as a man motioning to the children to walk with him.

Hunter said that the driver and the man in the park were not the same person. Their physical features, she said, were not similar.

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Regarding the incident at Broadmoor and Dartmouth drives, Hunter said that the amount of concern generated by the driver’s confusion is “understandable.” The adolescents’ responses to the incident was “appropriate,” she said.

“I have heard of this before,” Hunter said of the encounter between the driver and teens. “It is kind of part of the world that we all live in now.”

Even if you have requested a ride with a rideshare service or taxi, Hunter recommends that if you feel concerned, don’t get into the vehicle.

“I think we need to use our best judgment,” she said. In this case, she said, it was just a misinterpretation of the driver’s actions.

Hunter would not identify which rideshare company the driver was with and didn’t know whether or not the vehicle was marked.


Public Safety Reporter

Maria Sestito is the Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She covers breaking news as well as crime and courts. Maria came to the Napa Valley Register in 2015 after working at as a reporter and photographer at The Daily News in Jacksonville, NC.