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Child-luring reported near Oaklands school

Jun 09 2012

Police have stepped up patrols around Oaklands Elementary School in the wake of several suspected child-luring incidents.

Staff and parents of children at the school have been put on high alert after an incident on Tuesday where a man offered a boy money in an attempt to lure the child away.

It was the third incident since May 14, Victoria police said.

Principal Mike Phelan walked through a crowd of 400 students during recess on Friday, keeping a watchful eye.

"We're being much more vigilant at this point," he said. "We're making sure the students understand what to do in a situation where they feel uncomfortable."

On Tuesday, the boy refused to go with the man who offered him money and told a friend about it shortly after. Later, the two informed their parents.

In each of the earlier incidents, which took place May 14 and 17, a man gestured at children.

Witnesses have described a suspect in each incident, but investigators say there is so far no connection between them.

The latest suspect was described as a white man in his late 30s or early 40s wearing a black shirt and blue jeans. He had short black hair and was clean shaven, police said. He was wearing sunglasses.

All of the incidents occurred when school was out and there were more people walking around.

"We're not seeing a lot of consistency in the three different [incidents], so we're taking this time to alert the public and people in that area because this last incident was a bit more overt," said Victoria police Det. Todd Wellman.

Students should travel with a friend at all times and walk away from any situation that makes them uncomfortable, said Const. Matt McNichol, a VicPD school liaison officer.

Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or VicPD at 205-995-7654. dspalding@timescolonist.com

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