BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. - Families are shaken up after a Megan's Law offender reportedly tried to kidnap a toddler at a Walmart, then went back and followed other children the next day. That man is now off the streets, shifting Bethlehem Township Police's main mission to getting in touch with that toddler's family and anyone who may have seen the suspect.
"He's a predator," said Bethlehem Township Police Chief Greg Gottschall.
The chief is talking about the Megan's Law offender taken into custody Monday for violating his parole.
Investigators say surveillance video appears to show him trying to swipe a toddler from a shopping cart. It happened at the Walmart on Nazareth Pike Saturday evening, with parents nearby.
"We believe them to have been in the same aisle, but we don't know all the details yet," said Gottschall.
We're told that child's outcry kept him safe, and that man fled.
Police say a Walmart employee was told about the incident but didn't have a complete picture of what happened.
"Unfortunately, they did not get the name of the victims," said Gottschall. "Walmart security did their own kind of little investigation. When they learned that there was more to it than what they initially believed, then they called us."
Surveillance video from the next day showed the man coming back and following a young boy and girl. Police believe the presence of nearby adults halted any potential contact.
However, "we're developing information that he may have been in other stores as well, not in our jurisdiction," said Gottschall.
69 News also reached out to State Police. Troopers tell us fortunately, this doesn't happen often. However, all parents and shoppers should always have an exit plan, stay alert and be prepared to defend yourself if necessary.
"Not fearful, but be mindful," said Gottschall.
The suspect's name has not been released, but police say he is local. Now that he's off the streets, police are determined to get in touch with that toddler's family or anyone who saw the man.
"Perhaps we can file additional charges, and put him away for a longer period of time," said Gottschall.