HAINES CITY, Fla. (WFLA) – A New York man is accused of using a dog to try to lure a 7-year-old girl into his motorhome in front of a Publix grocery store in Haines City.
Haines City Police Department officers responded to a call at 4 p.m. on Sunday about an attempted abduction at the Publix store at 617 Highway 17.
Investigators say 63-year-old Dale Collins approached a 7-year-old girl who was fundraising outside of the store.
Collins asked the girl if she liked dogs because he had a dog that he was trying to find a home for. He then asked her if she would like a dog and she answered “yes.”
“While I was setting up the table and a man came up and approached my daughter with a dog. She loves animals. I thought nothing of it,” the girl’s mother Stacey Bray told WFLA.
Around four hours later, Collins allegedly approached the girl again and asked if he could show her the dog in his camper, but she said no.
Investigators say Collins asked the girl if she wanted his number. The girl’s mother overheard the conversation and yelled at him to go away.
“I’m like what? And he stepped back from her and looked at me and says I just wanted to give her my phone number so she could come over,” Bray said.
Collins told police that shortly after the girl’s mother began yelling at him, he went to his RV before he got into trouble. He then drove off in a beige RV.
Bray chased down the RV to get the tag number while a Publix employee called police.
Police later pulled the RV over on Highway 17 and arrested Collins on a charge of attempting to lure a child.
They also told WFLA they found numerous firearms in the RV.
“There’s no doubt in my mind he was trying to lure this girl into his camper,” said Haines City Police Deputy Chief Jim Elensky. “It’s very disturbing because what would have happened after that? That’s for everybody to decide.”
According to police, Collins admitted to the incident but said it was all a misunderstanding.
Bray said she isn’t buying it.
“How is asking her to come to your RV when she is seven a misunderstanding?” she said. “That’s the scariest thing in the world. My daughter is safe, but that next kid is not going to be safe when he gets out. He’s going to get somebody.”
Haines City police want anyone who is aware of any other incidents involving Dale Collins to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS or LOG ONTO http://www.P3tips.com to submit your tip via the web.
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