'Abduction' at York U was a prank, police say
Chris Kitching and Sandie Benitah, cp24.com
Published Thursday, December 6, 2012 11:11AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 6, 2012 8:51PM EST
Toronto police say there was no abduction at York University Wednesday afternoon. Investigators looked into a report that someone was forced into a van and driven away but later determined that it was all a prank.
Investigators had appealed for witnesses to come forward while officers reviewed surveillance video from the area to identify a potential victim and figure out their current whereabouts.
Just after 2 p.m. on Thursday, Toronto police tweeted "Officers have determined that the alleged abduction at York University did not occur."
Police later said the commotion was a prank between three male students -- two so-called suspects and the other a victim. However, witnesses who saw a person being forced into the car were unaware it was a prank and called police.
No one has been or will be charged in connection with the incident, according to Toronto police spokesperson Const. Tony Vella.
Officers were first called to the university's Keele campus shortly before 5 p.m. after witnesses reported a commotion.
They reported seeing an older-model van approach the person near the Fine Arts Building shortly before 5 p.m. Two men had reportedly exited and forced the person into the vehicle through its side doors.
Another sexual assault reported
News of the abduction Thursday morning further worried students who have been on high alert because of a string of incidents at the school.
Several sexual assaults have been reported on and near the campus in recent months.
The latest report was filed Wednesday afternoon.
According to the university, a female student was near the GO Transit bus stop at Accolade East when a man approached and inappropriately touched her.
Last week, the university alerted students after a woman was sexually assaulted at Stong College. Police later charged a 24-year-old Mississauga man.
Meanwhile, police are investigating a number of robberies that occurred in a neighbourhood south of the campus and in the "broader community" earlier this week, the university said.
University, police increase patrols
In response to the reported abduction investigation and other recent incidents, York University is promising to increase security and speak to students and parents to hear their concerns about campus safety.
According to the university, police and campus security have increased patrols, and school officials have met with police to review campus safety strategies.
“We are deeply troubled by reported safety occurrences on our campus and we are supporting Toronto Police Service in its investigations,” the university said in the statement. “We have enhanced security staffing patrols on campus and additional Toronto Police Service patrols in the area.”
Security staffing patrols are focusing on evening examination hours.
In a security bulletin to its students, the university said it is holding a two-hour open forum for parents of students Dec. 11, starting at 7 p.m. University president and vice-chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri and other officials are scheduled to be in attendance.
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