Vigil for Ayvani Hope Perez held by fellow students
ATLANTA -- Keep Georgia Safe is a local nonprofit agency that focuses on safety education and crime prevention training throughout the state.
Wednesday morning, Keep Georgia Safe founder Gary Martin Hays stopped by 11Alive News to talk about safety concerns.
Hays has worked with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and dozens of other agencies that have trained law enforcement to act upon kidnappings and other crimes.
A search for a 14-year-old Clayton County teen started Tuesday morning in Ellenwood when two men broke into her family's home, tried to steal money and jewelry and kidnapped Ayvani Hope Perez as they escaped.
As the search continued throughout Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, worry among friends and loved ones of Ayvani grew. The held a prayer vigil Tuesday evening, with hope that she would be found safe and sound.
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Hays said people can help by being aware of the suspects' sketches and be on the lookout. If anyone thinks they see the suspects, calling 911 immediately can help.
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Hays believes there is more information to learn.
"If they're discharging a weapon at 3:00 a.m. in that neighborhood as well lit as it was, someone had to see them driving away," Hays said.
Word spread Tuesday that the kidnapping may have occurred during a random home invasion. To protect themselves from a similar situation, people should make sure all exterior doors are well lit.
"Make sure the bushes and trees are trimmed back so the doors are exposed, so people can see when someone is at the door " Hays said.
He recommends spending money on solid doors and arming them with a deadbolt. In addition, it's a good idea to have an alarm system, so a panic button linked to help is immediately available in an emergency. By hitting the button, a loud siren will blare throughout the neighborhood.
"It's going to alert people that something's going on here and I need help," Hays said.
Having a phone nearby is also a good safety precaution to take.
"Keep a phone by your bed," Hays said, "where you can immediately call 911."
During Wednesday as authorities search for Ayvani and to solve the kidnapping case, they will collect tips from the public. Those tips, Hays said, get entered into a database where law enforcement can cross check facts and analyze the information.
From there, law enforcement can respond and follow leads to investigate details related to Ayvani's whereabouts and condition.
"They're looking for people who have a prior criminal history, at least within a 50-mile radius to see is anyone matches the description,' Hays said.
Anyone with information on Ayvani or her whereabouts is asked to call 911 or the Tip Line at (770) 477-3513.