Lansing parents on high alert
A scary situation is giving Tompkins County parents cause for alarm. Reports of a stranger approaching children have school officials on high alert. Tamara Lindstrom tells us about the search for the suspect, and how the community can help.
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LANSING, N.Y. -- What started with a report by a concerned neighbor has turned into a series of alarming scenarios.
"While her neighbor's child was waiting for the bus, a person in a blue vehicle came up and started to speak to the child. The mother came out the front door and when she started to approach her child, the car drove away at a pretty fast rate," said Chris Pettograsso, acting superintendent of the Lansing Central School District.
Pettograsso issued a warning to parents in the Lansing district, only to hear similar incidents have occurred throughout the week.
"We have a couple different reports of a suspicious vehicle that's approached a few kids in the Lansing, Groton area," said Capt. Brett George of the Tompkins County Sheriff's Office. "We have a report of a blue sedan, along with another vehicle, a greenish color jeep that had approached people on two different dates in the Lansing area."
George said children have been offered a ride by the stranger. And though they did the right thing and walked away, it's a close encounter that shouldn't be taken lightly.
"I think they should be fairly concerned about this," George said. "This is a serious investigation. We are taking it very seriously. We've increased patrols in the area, what we call saturation patrol, in an attempt to locate this vehicle and locate the person that has approached at least a couple kids in the Lansing area."
While district officials are counting on parents and the community to help keep kids safe, they're taking the message straight to the students, teaching them how to protect themselves from becoming a victim.
"We're talking about what Stranger Danger is," Pettograsso said. "Just giving skills so they know what to do. At the elementary level, they do a lot of role playing. So, they're practicing these skills. We're really teaching them to say no, to walk away, and to call the police."
Making sure students walk in groups and stay with friends is also key, as is getting reports to authorities quickly. Investigators said anyone who sees such an incident should call the sheriff's office, or 911.
The sheriff's office has heard descriptions of two suspects: both males with black hair, one in his mid to late twenties, one in his fifties or sixties.