A BRITISH mother has told the Olive Press how her son foiled the abduction of a toddler on the Costa del Sol.
The mother-of-two revealed how the 11-year-old stepped in when an African man tried to lure the two-year-old British holidaymaker into his van with the help of a cat.
The housewife, who lives in Marbella, told how after taking photographs from his van, the man in his 30s held the animal out to be stroked.
But just as the toddler started to pet the cat, her son Ben pulled him away.
“He is pretty clued up and realised what was going on,” she revealed.
“He grabbed the little boy’s hand and said ‘no, no, no’ before running back to us.
“You can say he has became a bit of a hero.”
While police have not been able to identify the culprit, a Nigerian man was charged last week with the attempted snatch of a Spanish two-year-old in Málaga a fortnight ago.
In the terrifying incident in the Rosaleda shopping centre, the 32-year-old man, whose name was given as Oduwa O, tried to grab the toddler out of his grandmother’s arms.
Incredibly, there have already been 22 reported abduction attempts of children across Spain so far this year, with Amy Fitzpatrick in Mijas and Mari luz in Huelva still missing.
“It is terrifying that there are people out there operating on the Costa del Sol,” said the British housewife, who has asked not to be named.
“My daughter is so pretty with blonde waist-length hair. I am now obviously very careful to never let them out of my sight.”
She and her husband, who commutes back to the UK to work, had been dining with friends on the terrace of Rosmarino restaurant in June, 2007.
While they ate, their son, 11, and daughter, 8, ran around playing in the square with half a dozen other British children.
It was about 10pm and still light, when a man had driven up in a white locksmith’s van and parked just out of sight of the square and fellow diners.
“This man, an African in his 30s had a camera and started taking photographs of the children, and in particular tried to get this two-year-old to come over to the van,” said the mother-of-two from London.
“He was using a cat to get the kids to come closer.
“My son was 11 and had been following closely the case of missing Maddie McCann so he was quite on edge.
“He knew straight away something was wrong and just as the child started stroking the cat beside the van, he pulled him away.
“They came running back screaming, but before we could aprehend this man, the van drove off fast the wrong way up a one way street.”
The restaurant immediately called police who came over the following day to take statements from the staff and the couple.
Through the children they were able to get a very good description of the man who had a gold tooth and short cropped dreadlocks in rows.
He was wearing jeans and a beige jacket and trainers and drove a locksmith’s van with a key signal and a smily face painted on the side.
While a number of the 22 reported abductions so far this year have been false alarms, most are being taken as genuine.
There have been two alleged attempted snatches of children in the province of Cordoba this month, both involving a black car.
Other recent attempts took place in Galicia near the towns of A Pobra and Boiro, where police have investigated the attempted kidnap of three young children in under a week.
In both cases the children were walking home from school and their attempted abductors drove a white van.
A similar case took place in Benalmadena on the Costa del Sol a fortnight ago, when a family reported that someone had tried to drag their 11-year-old daughter into a van.
Incredibly she was able to fight him off and ran back to her school Miguel Hernandez in Arroyo de la Miel.
The following day police arrested Nigerian Oduwa O for trying to wrestle a two-year-old from the boy’s grandmother.
The Nigerian, who has been remanded in custody, told a court that he had picked up the girl as “she was too white and looked ill.” He added he only wanted “to cure her.”
Living legally in Spain for five years, Oduwa had recently been arrested three times for violent robbery, although he has not been charged.
The so-called “psychosis” that has spread over the last week has led to at least one international school changing its regulations.
One mother whose children attend Swans school in Marbella told the Olive Press that no children were being allowed to leave the school until their parents’ cars were in the car park below.