ESCONDIDO, Calif. -- A 46-year-old man was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of trying to kidnap female pedestrians -- including girls as young as 11 -- in Escondido since last spring.
Spicer Van Allen Conant of San Marcos was taken into custody during a traffic stop at West 13th Avenue and South Escondido Boulevard Tuesday morning, minutes after an 18-year-old woman agreed to get into his red 1994 Mazda Miata convertible, according to police.
In the trunk of the suspect's car, police found an assault rifle and about 1,000 rounds of ammunition, Lt. Justin Murphy told reporters during a late-afternoon briefing.
Beginning early last May, Conant allegedly drove up alongside girls and women on various Escondido roadways, asked them for directions to nearby streets or freeways and then urged them to get into his car, Murphy said.
Following the first several suspected abduction attempts, which involved girls ages 15 and 16, police identified Conant as the suspected perpetrator via a cellphone photo taken by a witness, Murphy said.
Though they ultimately decided that no crimes had occurred during the incidents, detectives interviewed Conant and put out a public bulletin seeking other potential victims. None came forward, and the case was closed, the lieutenant said.
Last Wednesday, a man matching Conant's description and driving a red older-model Mazda Miata approached a 27-year-old woman and asked her for directions, according to Murphy.
After she complied with his request, the driver began insisting that she get into his vehicle to show him the way. Growing suspicious, the woman took a photo of him with her cellphone, at which point he drove off.
Due to the clear similarities with the earlier suspected abduction attempts, detectives put Conant under surveillance, Murphy said.
About 6:30 Tuesday morning, Conant left his home, drove into Escondido and approached five female pedestrians -- four of them minors -- over a period of about 90 minutes, the lieutenant alleged.
The first four declined his alleged exhortations to get into his car, but the other consented. Officers promptly pulled Conant over and took him into custody.
Conant was being questioned Tuesday afternoon and was expected to be booked into county jail Tuesday evening on multiple counts of attempted kidnapping and a charge of illegally possessing a firearm.
Conant works in the Information Technology Security field, he has also recently lived in Poway.