The one tactic Jake's parents believe saved him from an "unplanned abduction".

So, even talking about a child going missing gives me the shivers.

I would love to just bury my head and pretend it doesn’t happen but a few years ago that missing child was nearly my nephew.

I would say “luckily” they got him back but actually it wasn’t luck at all but the very quick actions of the army cadet guys stewarding at the event. Every parent should know what they did, so they can do the same if needed.

Here’s what happened.

Jake was just four years old at the time and like every other child, he knew not to ever talk to strangers or leave his parents when out, so what went wrong?

The whole family was at a beach event in Bournemouth on the southern coast of England . It was very busy so Lucinda (his mum) was holding his hand, Jake is a shy boy so had no interest in leaving her side anyway.

They stopped to look at a stall and she let go of his hand to pick something up, it was just a couple of minutes, if that.

When she looked round to take his hand he wasn’t there!

While trying to stay calm and telling herself he wouldn’t go far she started to look around and call his name, but she still couldn’t see him.


Within a matter of minutes an army cadet who was stewarding the event spotted Lucinda and immediately asked what had happened and who she was looking for.

A rare shot of all 4 of us! Taken at Stari Bar by our lovely Airbnb host. With Airbnb you never quite know what you’re going to get. But every now and then you get a host who goes above and beyond to make your stay a memorable one. Our host in Bar, Dusko, was one of those. He picked us up from the train station and drove us to the apartment. He loves hosting and you can tell. The next day he offered to drive us up to Stari Bar, the old town and show us around. Having someone who speaks the language with us was really helpful. He even negotiated the entry price so we didn’t have to pay for the the boys. On our final day he drove us to the bus station and helped us find the right one. As we said our goodbyes he wished us well and asked us to stay in touch. Over the last 18 months we’ve had over 20 Airbnb hosts. But it’s the ones like Dusko that we’ll remember. #staribar #montenegro #bar #balkans #oldtown #travelblog #familytravel #worldschoolers #digitalnomadlife #wanderlust #travelwithkids

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He wasted no time and himself and the other guys stewarding started shouting “we are looking for a boy,” “He is four years old, blonde and in a red t-shirt. Have you seen him?”. They repeated this loudly and constantly as they covered the areas nearby.

Now this may seem an obvious and simple thing but the quick timing and detail they shouted was undoubtedly what saved him.

Within about 15 minutes they found him a little further down the beach… He’s just a little boy who wandered off you are thinking? Unfortunately not.

The detail Jake gave would make any parents blood run cold… “There was a bald man in a white t-shirt, he said he would take me to see a real rocket ship.”

As a child he wasn’t inclined to lie and his response seemed very genuine.

It’s awful to think men like this are around and near our children but they are and sadly some get away with it.

By very quickly shouting out the description of Jake and that he was lost, it meant the guy couldn’t leave the beach without being spotted, so he just left Jake and walked away.


I would urge every parent to do this immediately, even if you suspect your child is just round the corner, the worst that could happen is that you are slightly embarrassed because they didn’t go anywhere, but it’s well worth that risk.

In fact, the police thought that this was an unplanned abduction as it was risky because he had to walk a fair way on the beach before he could get to the road.

So he basically just saw Jake, took his chance and how quickly it happened is scary.

I truly hope none of you are ever in this situation but if you are then just shout, loud and clear, who you are looking for and what they look like.

Don’t be afraid to ask people to help you in other directions too.

Please share this so it can help others in the same way it did Jake, it could have been a very different ending without such quick actions.

Despite this scary experience, the family haven’t let it hold them back. They are currently travelling around Europe with the boys and you can follow their adventure on their blog 100 Bucket List Adventures

This post was originally published on Vicky’s blog Oliver’s Outings and has been republished with full permission.