Houston man says he tried abducting dozens of girls

PEARLAND – A 20-year-old Houston man charged with impersonating a police officer and attempting to kidnap a 9-year-old girl told police that he had tried the same thing more than 100 times.

Benjamin Thornburg said he had tried to kidnap young girls from Galveston to the Woodlands, said Pearland Police Department spokesman Rick Fernandez.

"He told us they were all unsuccessful," Fernandez said.

The girl told police she was waiting for a school bus at the corner of Wagon Trail and Cantu in Pearland about 7 a.m. Monday when a man driving a silver pickup stopped and offered to take her to school.

When the girl declined the offer, the man identified himself as a police officer and said she wasn’t allowed to hold the small toy she had in her hands while waiting for a school bus. He reached out and grabbed the toy and her arm.

"She screamed an pulled away and ran to her home,"Fernandez said. "This was a very courageous little girl."

She told her mother about the incident and her mother called police.

"This little girl did all the right things," Fernandez said. "She screamed, ran away and told her mother. She also kept her head about her and was able to give officers a good description of the man and his vehicle."

Officers soon found a silver 2002 Mazda pickup truck at a nearby convenience store. The suspect was detained as he came out of the store’s rest room, Fernandez said. Investigators found the girl’s toy in a trash can in the rest room.

He was charged with attempted aggravated kidnapping, theft form a person and impersonating a public servant. If convicted he could face up to 20 years in prison. Bond was set today totaling $115,000. He remains in the Pearland City Jail.

After Thornburg told police had had tried to abduct other children in other cities, Pearland police sent out notices and copies of his photograph to agencies throughout the region.

Anyone who suspects Thornburg of attempting to kidnap other children should call their local police agencies or the Pearland police department at 281-652-1161, Fernandez said.

Although Thornburg does have a record of past criminal activity, he is not a registered sex offender, Fernandez said.

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