School on alert after report of kidnap bid
Police keeping open mind as it is unclear if woman was just trying to help girl on bus
Clifford Lo and Phila Siu
A Ho Man Tin school has stepped up its security after a middle-aged woman's apparent attempt to kidnap a four-year-old kindergarten pupil was foiled by the child's grandmother.
Plainclothes police officers have lain in wait outside the Pui Ching Primary School and its kindergarten section since the incident on Monday although it is not clear whether the woman was trying to snatch the child or was helping her after she got on the wrong bus.
The girl has remained tight-lipped about how she got on the bus after her grandmother picked her and her six-year-old brother up after school at about 4.40pm on Monday
As they were waiting at a bus stop on Waterloo Road, 60 metres from the school, the grandmother bent down to pick up her bags in preparation to board the second bus at the stop, a No 10.
But as she straightened up, she saw her granddaughter on the first bus, No 271, with a woman she did not know. She immediately boarded the bus and retrieved the girl. The woman stayed on the bus as it drove off.
Police are looking for a Chinese woman aged between 40 and 50 and about 1.65 metres tall with short hair. She was wearing a floral T-shirt and blue jeans.
"We are investigating whether the child was abducted or she got on the bus herself and a member of the public was trying to assist," a police officer said. "We are keeping an open mind and trying to find out exactly what happened."
Kowloon City crime squad detectives conducted inquiries and collected surveillance videos from shops at the scene yesterday morning in an effort to identify the woman.
School principal Chang Kwok-tak said the girl was unhurt. "When our officer asked her whether a woman carried her into a bus, she remained silent," he said. "But she is cheerful and talkative when we talk to her on other topics."
He said the school's social workers and counsellors would keep an eye on her behaviour.
Chang said the primary school and kindergarten had always had tight security.
Pupils who take the school bus can board and disembark only from inside the school's compound.
Parents and domestic helpers collecting children have to show the teachers a permit given by the school before the children can leave with them.
There are also surveillance cameras in the compound.
Since Monday's incident, the school has doubled to eight the number of teachers on patrol at the gate and is considering sending others to patrol the area around the school.
It has also written to parents about the incident and teachers have reminded pupils of the need to be on guard.
Parents said they were worried. "I will hold her hands tightly wherever I go," Alice Lau said of her four-year-old daughter.
Police are treating the case as a "request for police assistance" and detectives from Kowloon City are investigating.