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Los Angeles: Police are warning children, parents and school officials to be on the lookout for a man in his early 20s who has approached at least three young girls this month in the vicinity of Dronfield Avenue and Tyler Street in Sylmar.
The man has been seen driving a black 1995 Toyota Camry with a partial license plate ending in 880. He is medium height and has a heavy build, while his is hair is short.
“We have a good idea who this person is, but we don’t have enough to get a warrant yet,” explained Lt. Paul Vernon, commanding officer of the Mission Detective Division. “In the meantime, we want the public to be aware of the incidents, and we encourage other victims to come forward with other incidents or sightings near the school.”
Detectives have confronted one possible suspect but are still building a criminal case. The man has approached young girls, one as young as 12, on three occasions since May 3, 2013, the last two incidents being one week ago. All the incidents have occurred in the afternoon after schools have dismissed.
“The school district and school police are aware of the situation, and we have sent officers to patrol near Sylmar High School and Olive Vista Middle School near where the incidents have occurred,” Lt. Vernon explained.
None of the girls accosted have been injured or touched by the suspect. In each case, the suspect circles the block looking for victims, then calls out to them from the car or approaches them on the sidewalk. In one case, he ordered a girl to get into his car. “What’s saved these girls are their wits and walking in groups,” Lt. Vernon added.
Detectives do not believe this suspect is the same man who has been described in separate attempted kidnapping incidents in the Tujunga area over the weekend.
Detectives have purposely left part of the suspect’s description unspoken to aid in tying the correct suspect to other incidents. “It’s tough to balance identifying a suspect publicly before a case is filed, protecting the public from a predator, or not saying anything at all,” Lt. Vernon added.
Anyone with information on this crime is urged to call Detective Stephen Bell, Mission Sex Unit, at (818) 838-9971. Anonymous tips can be called into Crimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or by texting 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Online tips may be placed at www.LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.