Several back-to-back incidents of strange men approaching children are causing alarm among parents.
“This is crazy, it’s like all of a sudden there’s a ton of them,” said Kamloops mother Michelle Blundell-Dunkerley, whose been following updates through a Facebook page and communications with friends.
“I don’t know if it’s the same guy or if there’s a couple of them in town right now. If it’s one guy, he’s certainly tenacious.”
Despite several warnings to parents, however, authorities are cautioning people to be vigilant, not vigilante.
Three schools and the South Thompson District Girl Guides sent out “stranger danger” alerts to parents Monday and Tuesday. There were also vague reports of a man approaching a child on Wednesday at Prince Charles Park.
The school district didn’t issue a citywide alert since it takes its cue from the RCMP, said assistant superintendent Karl de Bruijn.
“If they believe it’s significant enough to do a full blown citywide alert kind of thing, we would do that,” he said.
On Tuesday morning, both Aberdeen and Pacific Way elementary schools issued a warning to parents after a boy leaving a Monday evening soccer game was approached on Pacific Way by a man in a maroon-coloured truck offering a ride.
The man told him his mother had asked him to come pick him up. The boy’s mother was about 20 metres behind her son.
The police were not informed, according to the RCMP school liaison officer.
On Tuesday, a man entered Dallas Elementary looking for a girl he said he was supposed to pick up from school. When he was told to leave, he waited for the girl at her bus stop where the bus supervisor became suspicious and alerted the school staff who called police.
The man had first approached the girl at the flea market the previous weekend where she was selling Girl Guide cookies at her mother’s booth.
An email from Girl Guide South Thompson district commissioner Rebecca Anderson fanned out to organization parents explained the situation as a warning to be vigilant during cookie selling season.
It stated that the man tried to befriend her by approaching her several times at the market. And when she didn’t have enough boxes of cookies for his orders, he coaxed her phone number from her.
By the time the mother and daughter got home, he’d left three messages. The mother told him to stop phoning.
“The girl is safe. The man has been talked to but all he said is that he wanted some cookies,” states the email.
Police said they are familiar with the man and are investigating.
The Girl Guides and police are asking parents to have the “stranger danger” talk with their children.
“In a way that doesn’t make them overly nervous, we raise their level of awareness that these things happen from time to time and what’s the appropriate way to respond,” said de Bruijn.
He added authorities are leery of making kids “hyper alert.”
“Because all of a sudden someone looks at them from a car or something and it’s difficult for kids to differentiate between what might be inappropriate or not.”