Two Syrian men accused of attempted kidnapping denied the charges on Saturday, a day after a private security guard in Paphos made a citizen’s arrest and told police he saw the suspects trying to abduct two boys.
Police said two Paphos residents aged 24 were detained on Friday afternoon after a security guard alerted law enforcement authorities to a possible attempted kidnapping of two minors aged 7 and 13.
Media reports said the alleged incident took place in a northern Paphos borough, near a private kindergarten serving the Chloraka and Lemba communities, where local authorities recently beefed up security and increased neighbourhood watch programmes.
The suspects denied having any intention to abduct the boys, telling the judge the man behind the wheel was a potential car buyer on a test drive
According to the Cyprus News Agency, the security guard said he became aware of a vehicle coming to a stop near the boys, who were on their bicycles, and alleged that one of the suspects attempted to exit the vehicle.
“He was trying to snatch them,” the guard reportedly told police.
During Saturday’s court hearing, the two suspects denied having any intention to abduct the boys. The court ordered them remanded in custody for five days as police continue their investigation into the complaint.
The suspects, who are facing multiple charges including attempted kidnapping, denied the charges, telling the judge the man behind the wheel was a potential car buyer on a test drive.
But the security guard, who filed the repot with police, said he yelled at them as soon as he noticed the car had come to a stop, at which time the boys went away but the men remained in the area.
According to local media, another security guard had inquired about the suspicious vehicle, with eyewitnesses telling him they had seen the same vehicle driven previously in the area.
Police sources told Knews no physical attempt to touch the children was alleged in the report, while clarifying that the specific details of the incident were the subject of a pending investigation.
Suspects detained by citizen’s arrest
The official report said a guard was in the school garden when he heard a boy yelling, around 4:15pm. He then saw two boys on their bikes and a car idling nearby with the front-seat passenger door open. It was not clear in the report whether the boy was yelling at the suspects or trying to get the guard’s attention.
After the two boys left the area, the guard with the help of another individual -presumably another private security- spotted the vehicle in the school parking lot, according to police.
The two guards then immediately called authorities and also notified the parents of the children, who were reportedly in tears. Additional reports said the guards boxed the car in and immobilized the suspects through a citizen’s arrest while waiting for police to arrive.
According to online Reporter, the second security guard told the media outlet he had seen the same car 2-3 times passing through the same spot.
“When he asked some young ladies about the vehicle in question, they told him that ‘he has been going around for days harassing girls and young children,” Reporter wrote.
Police said a knife was found inside the vehicle along with car keys to two different vehicles, with both suspects facing attempted kidnapping, conspiracy felony, illegal knife possession, and possible theft charges.
The two boys were expected to give depositions in the presence of their parents or legal guardians as well as social workers assigned to the case.
Earlier this month, youth groups in nearby Polis Chrysochous in the same district announced they would be cooperating with municipal authorities and local law enforcement to combat petty crime and burglary.
Some reports said theft could be on the rise during the coronavirus outbreak, with Paphos police praising “cooperation with police to protect citizens and their property.”
The organized youths were expected to patrol areas in groups while keeping a watchful eye on their neighbourhoods.