UPDATE: A language barrier was to blame for a 13-year-old boy mistakenly thinking that two landscapers were trying to lure him into their pickup truck near a busy Washington Township shopping center last month, police said Friday.
Authorities reached that conclusion following a thorough investigation that included interviews with the boy, the landscapers and witnesses, as well as the assistance of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and a New Jersey State Police sketch artist.
"It was determined to have been a misunderstanding due to a language barrier and the individuals speaking with each other and not the alleged victim," township Police Chief Richard Skinner said. "As a result, the matter has been closed as unsubstantiated."
Police did their due diligence, including background checks on the men, just to be sure.
Skinner cited the work of Sgt. Steven Riedel for locating and identifying the person and Detective Corporal Jason Gugger for conducting a "thorough and exhaustive investigation."
The chief also thanked all of the agencies that assisted.
"It is through hard work and diligence that matters such as this are brought to a successful conclusion," he said.
The youngster told police the passenger got out of the parked truck, extended his arm and said what he thought was "give me your hand" on Finnerty Place near Washington Town Center around 11:45 a.m.
The teen said he refused and the man stepped toward him and asked again.
The boy then ran to join his friends at the Fresh Grocer shopping center on Pascack Road without any contact ever being made.
Boyd A. Loving took the photo and contributed to this report.
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