(NewsNation) — It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: the kidnapping of a child.
And it’s unfortunately more common than people might think.
Some 2,300 children per day are reported missing in the United States, and 40% of children who are abducted by strangers are killed.
Eye Investigate private investigator Monique Lessan says that child kidnapping happens “often in small towns,” compared to big cities.
“People believe that they are safe. They leave their doors opened, they don’t lock their cars. And they allow the children to go from one location to another, from home to school. Or from one family to another, by bike or walk through the woods,” Lessan said during an appearance Tuesday night on NewsNation’s “Banfield.”
“The perpetrator actually targets small cities, and they watch the kids. They start thinking about the schedules, and every day, they follow them. And they conduct some kind of victimology. It’s a profile that they have, maybe four weeks in advance,” Lessan added.
Grieving father Marc Klass established the Polly Klaas Foundation to help stop crimes against children.
Klass’s 12-year-old daughter Polly was kidnapped and murdered in 1993 in Petaluma, California.
“Polly was kidnapped out of a town of 45,000 people, it was considered a completely and totally safe town,” Klass said on “Banfield.”
“People have to understand that a third of abduction attempts occur on school routes. So if we have some kind of program, even neighborhood watch programs, to keep an eye on kids going to and from school, we could cut kidnapping in the United States by a third,” Klass added.
The first three hours, experts say, is the most crucial for finding a missing child.
“A lot of evidence can get lost. People’s memory kind of fades away with all the details that they need to know in order to help the law enforcement. So those three hours are crucial, especially for small children under 10 years old. Honestly, I think that it’s a mistake to wait 72 hours, as a lot of people say. By then, most children don’t survive,” Lessan said.