Police are cautioning the UVa-Wise community about walking alone after a September incident involing a college faculty member and a driver on Main Street in Wise.
Wise Police Department Lieutenant Chris Kent confirmed Friday that officers on Sept. 17 responded to a call by The University of Virginia’s College at Wise’s faculty member, Cyndi Newlon.
Kent said that Newlon told officers that she was walking along Main Street when an old man pulled alongside her in a black car with Virginia license plate 22405H, honked the car horn and persisted in trying to talk her into the car. After she told him no, Kent said, the man drove further down the street and parked as if he was waiting for her.
Newlon says, “What really bothered me was that he seemed to be waiting for me.” She said that sometimes when she’s walking home students will yell out the window to say hi to her, or people will stop and ask for directions, so this incident didn’t become “unnerving” until the man began to wait on her.
Kent said that Newlon then went to a convenience store about a block away from the Wise County Courthouse and waited for the police to arrive.
Newlon said that after she talked to police she called her husband to come and take her home because if the man was still watching, she didn’t want him to follow her home.
A 70-year-old white male fitting the description Newlon gave officers was later questioned by a Wise County Sheriff’s deputy at the address of the car’s registered owner, Kent said. No charges have been filed in connection with the Sept. 17 incident.
When asked if members of the UVa-Wise community should take any precautions in the wake of the incident, Kent said pedestrians can take several common-sense safety measures.
Campus Police Chief Ronnie Shortt says that there have not been any reports on campus that match the description of the person or car from the incident.
Shortt also says that if students are caught in a similar situation to get the plate number, description of the person and draw as much attention to the scene as possible.
“Walk with a friend or in groups,” Kent said, adding that it is a good idea to stay in well-lit areas and to wear safety reflective clothing if walking after dark.
Kent said it is a good idea to keep one’s cell phone handy… He also recommended that, if approached by a stranger, to be polite but firm. If approached at night, Kent recommended that one should head to a well-lit residence or store and ask for help.