ACT Policing has launched a centralised investigation into men approaching children across the nation’s capital after about eight separate incidents in the past six months.
Since March, police have been investigating incidents where men approached, stalked, assaulted or grabbed children across the ACT and in Queanbeyan.
An ACT Policing spokesperson said no-one had been injured or abducted during the incidents.
“In the past six months, there have been a number of reported incidents that have required further investigation where a child has been approached by a suspicious person,” the spokesperson said
“Given the number of similar incidents, they are all being investigated as a centralised investigation, but each investigation is considered on its own merits.”
The first incident occurred seven months ago when a man approached students before and after school in Melba, Flynn and Fraser. A month later, there were reports of a man approaching school students in Conder, Curtin, Garran and Woden.
In several cases, the man was reportedly driving an old, light-coloured four-door sedan with damaged and scratched panels. He would try to lure the children to their vehicle, offering them lifts or to see a puppy.
During the investigation, ACT Policing has released four different face-fits based on descriptions provided by their intended young victims. In the majority of cases, the man who approached the boys and girls was aged 30-40, with short, dark hair, and was 170-180 centimetres tall. Some reports said the man had a tattoo.
Below is the list of the approaches as reported by the RiotACT team.
12 March – ACT Policing warned Belconnen parents about a man approaching school children before and after school in the suburbs of Melba, Flynn and Fraser. The man’s vehicle was described as a small, white four-door sedan that possibly had black louvres on the rear window.
23 May – ACT Policing said that about 8:40 am, a student who was on the way to school was approached by an unknown man in Carruthers Street, Curtin and asked to come to his vehicle to see a puppy. The man was described as Caucasian in appearance, aged in his late 30s to early 40s, with black hair, 170cm tall (5”7 ) and being of slim build. The man was wearing a light grey tracksuit, T-shirt, black puffer-style vest and a black beanie, and was driving a dark grey/silver sedan.
25 May – Around 8:25 am, a child was walking on Kitchener Street, Garran and was approached by a man in an old white sedan, which had numerous scratches and dents on the panels. The man tried to entice the child into the vehicle by offering a lift. The man is described as Caucasian in appearance, 30 to 40 years old and of medium build. He was unshaven, had a deep voice and a red and green tattoo on his right wrist/lower forearm. He was wearing a black beanie and dark jacket with the sleeves rolled up.
3 June – Around 1:30 pm, a boy was riding his bike on Bentham Street, Yarralumla when a man followed him into the drop-off area of a nearby school and then watched the child for some time.
5 July – A man dragged a nine-year-old girl into nearby bushes as she was playing near her grandparents’ house in Spence. The offender was wearing black clothing and a black beanie.
26 July – About 3:15 pm, a 12-year-old boy was walking along a pathway connecting Salsola Street and Darwinia Terrace, Rivett when he was assaulted by the man. The man is described as being mid-30s, Caucasian in appearance, about 180cm (5’11”) tall, and of medium to solid build. He had an orange beard and was wearing black sunglasses, a black hooded jumper with the hood up, black tracksuit pants, red socks and black shoes.
17 August – Around 11 am, police responded to reports of two primary students being approached by a man near the Macquarie Primary School boundary fence. He is described as having a dark complexion and a black beard and was wearing a black unzipped hooded jumper, a black shirt with writing on the front, dark tracksuit pants, a black beanie and a square, silver and gold watch.
3 September – Around 3:15 pm a man approached a five-year-old girl at a bus stop outside a school on Alanbar Street, Queanbeyan. The man was between 30 and 40-years-old, about 175-180cm tall and was a medium build. He had a tanned complexion and dark brown hair.
In light of these incidents, ACT Policing said they were ramping up Kenny Koala stranger safety lessons at schools while the ACT Government has also launched a stranger safety awareness program, including sending warnings through school newsletters, emails and staff meetings.
ACT Policing are encouraging parents and guardians to teach their children good personal safety practices including stranger safety, and to contact police immediately if they become aware of similar incidents.
ACT Policing’s stranger safety tips, which can be found on their website, include:
- Stay close to a grownup and hold their hand when you are out
- Know your name, address and phone number
- Don’t speak to adults you don’t know
- Don’t take toys or food from people you don’t know
- Always stay with your parents or a friend
- If you get lost find someone you can trust wearing a uniform like a police officer or shopkeeper
- If a stranger makes you feel unsafe, tell a trusted adult straight away.
Police are urging anyone who may have any information that could assist police to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via the Crime Stoppers ACT website.
Please quote reference 6269577. Information can be provided anonymously.