Man arrested after luring 15-year-old into van on Long Island

WESTBURY, L.I. — A man was arrested after he lured a 15-year-old into his van, Nassau County police said.

Denis Melara, 32, was driving a white van along Grand Boulevard in Westbury on Thursday when he saw a 15-year-old female walking to school, police said.

According to authorities, Melara approached the victim and told her to get into the van. She complied, believing he was one of her mother’s friend.

Melara attempted to convince the teen to skip school. She felt something was wrong, and told Melara she wanted to go to school, police said.

She was dropped off around Westbury High School.

Melara was taken into custody Friday and is charged with luring a child, criminal solicitation and endangering the welfare of a child.

Following the incident, Nassau County police offered tips to parents and children on being alert and vigilant while in public:

  1. Parents and their children should work together to ensure a strategic plan to combat dangerous predators.
  2. Parents should teach kids to know their full address and their phone numbers in addition to teaching them to avoid isolated areas of parks, playgrounds and public restrooms.
  3. Teach children to run away from someone that is bothering them and try to attract attention to themselves by yelling or screaming.
  4. If being followed by someone in a car, try to remember the license plate number and to the best of their ability-get a detailed description of the predator.
  5. Teach children the tricks used by predators such as bribing them, requesting help from them or even a threat.
  6. Parents should have a code word with their children to use in the event someone is attempting to pick them up, that person should know the code word.
  7. Children should know that if they become a victim, they can and should do anything possible to get away from the predator.