Fears of child-snatching gang terrorising city as men tell boy ‘come with us’

A 14-year-old boy is feared to be the latest victim of a cruel gang allegedly terrorising teenagers and women.

Police are probing seven terrifying incidents that have taken place in Worcester since September 10.

Fears are growing that a child-snatching gang appear to be operating in the Arboretum area of the city.

The first report was of a man loitering outside a primary school.

In the latest incident, schoolboy Xanda Chesworth was reportedly approached by two men as he walked home from school on Friday afternoon.

The teenager said he was grabbed in the street by a pair of strangers who told him: “Come with us”.

He said: "I turned down the road and two men were standing there.

"The pavement is quite narrow with cars parked on the side and there was not any space. I could just get by.

"They said: 'Come through'. I started to go near them when a mixed-race guy grabbed the bottom of my blazer.

"They said: 'Come with us'. I thought they were going to take me away.

"At that point I dropped my bag and ran. I started shouting and screaming. And they started walking towards me."

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Xanda’s dad has now bought him and his sister panic alarms following the terrifying ordeal.

It is the latest in a string of disturbing kidnapping attempts.

It is unclear whether police have linked the incidents at this stage.

On most of the occasions, young women or children were either approached, chased and even grabbed by men in a silver-coloured vehicle.

Ellesse Robinson, 15, was left in floods of tears when she fled a gang of four who tried to snatch her off the street on September 20.

The schoolgirl was walking to a shop at 7pm when a car pulled up next to her.

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She said: “As I walked out of the shop and was waiting at the traffic lights, a grey Peugeot pulled up very slowly towards me.

"Two men in the back told me to 'come'. I stepped back then the man in the front passenger side opened his car door and I genuinely thought he was going to grab me."

The following day, Keeley Austen-Marsden, 21, was chased by two men as she walked a mile from where Ellesse was approached.

Later that evening three girls, including one aged just eight, were approached by men two miles away.

The girls were followed by the men before they ran into a Co-op shop where police were called.

Parents have also been warned after several incidents of suspicious men seen loitering outside the city's schools.

The incidents are said to have taken place on September 10, 15, 17, and 20.

Two attempted kidnappings were reported on September 21 before this latest attack on Xanda on September 25.

West Mercia Police have stepped up patrols across the city following the spate of worrying incidents.

Detective inspector Ed Slough and inspector Dave Troth from West Mercia Police said: "We are aware of heightened concerns surrounding the reporting on social media and local news reports of a group of men in a silver or grey saloon car approaching people in the Arboretum area of Worcester.

"Some incidents are reported to have happened whilst children have been walking home from school or in the early evening."

However, Superintendent Steph Brighton played down fears that a gang was in operation.

He said: "I understand that there is a heightened public concern that children may be at risk and I want to reassure you that no information received indicates, in any way, that a gang or individuals are working in Worcester trying to abduct our children.

“We previously wrote to all the local schools to inform parents and carers of the children in our community of our investigations and to inform them of the increased police presence in around the schools for the purpose of reassurance following reports made to us of suspicious activity being directed toward children.

“Protecting children is of course a priority for us and we have investigated every single report that has been made to us. A number of these describe a variety of suspicious vehicles and activities. To date, despite the good intent of the members of the public reporting, none of these suspicious activities have transpired into criminal activity.

“At this time, we continue to have additional officers on patrol to reassure members of public and I would encourage you to speak with the officers on patrol near to schools with any concerns you may have."

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