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Theft incident leads to trail safety concerns, tips for walking alone

Downtown Appleton
Posted at 4:13 PM, May 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-07 15:39:15-04

APPLETON (NBC 26) — An incident that occurred on an Appleton trail has triggered new safety concerns among residents. On April 17, around 8:00 a.m., a woman was approached by a person who tried to take items from her while she was on a trail near RiverHeath.

“Obviously something like this is very serious to happen in the city of Appleton. It's something that we're still working diligently on,” said Lieutenant Meghan Cash, Appleton Police public information officer.

Lieutenant Cash told NBC 26 that the incident was random and not something that happens often in this neighborhood. However, this event has raised concerns about the safety of individuals who enjoy walking on trails.

Aaron Pynenberg, a Sergeant for the Downtown District who patrols the trail-filled downtown area, understands that these trails offer solitude. But, he also said that the solitude can come with safety concerns.

“If something makes you uncomfortable, acknowledge it, be aware of it, and take action as you need to,” Sergeant Pynenberg said.

Pynenberg also emphasizes the importance of having your hands free while walking on trails, as it allows individuals to defend themselves if necessary.

“The first thing to think about is your hands,” said Sergeant Pynenberg. “If the worst-case scenario happens and somebody does approach you in a negative way, you want to have your hands free to be able to defend yourself.”

He gave advice if you do encounter someone that makes you uncomfortable, “What you want to do is make that person aware that you are aware that they're there.”

Police say that trail safety is something to be aware of, but not scared of. Take precautions and be aware of your surroundings, but don’t be afraid of enjoying them.