Fifty-six-year-old Brian M. Ayers was charged with second-degree attempted child luring and third-degree child endangerment.
By Matt Skoufalos
A Roebling man has been arrested and charged with child endangerment after Cherry Hill police determined he allegedly attempted to lure a pair of underage girls into his car last week.
According to police, the girls had been shopping at the Wawa in the 800 block of Cooper Landing Road around 5:30 p.m. April 6, when they reported that a man identified as 56-year-old Brian M. Ayers was watching them. After waiting for Ayers to leave before they did, the girls were allegedly approached by him a mile away from the store on their walk home.
Police said that Ayers allegedly pulled up to the girls at the curb of South Lincoln and Garfield Avenues, and offered them a ride. The girls ran away, reported the incident to an adult, and Ayers drove off. Subsequently, police released surveillance footage from the Wawa of a man later identified as Ayers by an anonymous tipster.
Ayers was arrested and charged with second-degree attempted child luring and third-degree child endangerment. He was remanded to the Camden County Jail on $80,000 bail, which he posted, and was later released.
Cherry Hill Police Captain Amy Winters described the incident as isolated. She praised the girls in question for trusting their gut instincts.
“They did everything right,” Winters said. “They yelled no, they ran away, and they immediately told an adult. People need to report it right away.”
Winters advised that parents talk with their children about “stranger danger,” and emphasized the value of retaining important information in such circumstances.
“ID a license plate, snap a picture, anything,” she said.
Winters also pointed to the state statute for child luring as defining the threshold of the crime:
A person commits a crime of the second degree if he attempts, via electronic or any other means, to lure or entice a child or one who he reasonably believes to be a child into a motor vehicle, structure or isolated area, or to meet or appear at any other place, with a purpose to commit a criminal offense with or against the child.
Simply offering a child a ride may seem like a harmless or well-intentioned act, she said, but “the totality of the circumstances” in the Ayers case, including interviews and judgment of the circumstances surrounding his encounter with the girls, yielded probable cause for his arrest.
“It’s not about how someone looks,” Winters said. “It’s actions.”
All persons charged with a crime are innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law. An arrest is not a conviction.