03/07/2012 06:48 EST | Updated 05/07/2012 05:12 EDT

Failed Kidnapping Leads To Arrest In Parkdale

Police arrested a man suspected of trying to abduct a 10-year-old boy in Parkdale Tuesday, after witnesses saw the child screaming and intervened.

The boy was walking to his grandmother's house from school along King Street West near Cowan Avenue around 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Around that time, police say a man approached from behind and tried to grab the youth, who fought back, broke free and called for help.

Robin North, who was walking to work, was among the witnesses who rushed towards the boy.

"I was just locking my door and I heard a child scream, 'No, no no,'" she said.

North said she saw a man "dragging a small boy" by his jacket.

"So I yelled, 'Hey, what's going on?' and the man looked up and dropped the boy."

He fled and boarded a streetcar, but North also noted the number of the streetcar took down information about distinctive clothing the suspect was wearing.

The information was enough for police to arrest the 33-year-old suspect. Police said the man was already on probation and has two previous assault convictions.

7 attemped abductions since January

He appeared in court Wednesday and was charged with assault, attempted abduction of a person under 14, and failure to comply with probation.

A string of seven attempted abductions have been reported in Toronto so far this year, including one Monday at West Mall and Rathburn Road in Etobicoke.

The only apparently common factor is that children were the targets in all the incidents, said Toronto police spokeperson Const. Wendy Drummond.

"There's nothing precipitating these occurrences. They're not happening in the same area, the descriptions are not the same," she said.

The only arrest made so far has been in Tuesday's Parkdale incident.

Trish Derby, the Ontario director for the Missing Children Society of Canada, said giving children specific advice about how to react in attempted abduction situations is important for keeping them safe.

"The same rule applies whether it's someone the child's met, or someone the child's never known or seen before," she said. "You don't go anywhere with anyone until you check in with someone at home."