Police said Friday that three incidents of a man approaching teenage girls in Hamilton's Mountain are connected, and they're searching for a suspect.
On Wednesday, around 11:30 a.m., a 16-year-old girl was walking near the Goodness Me! store, at Upper Gage Ave. and Beryl St., when a man in a blue or black 4-door sedan (possibly a Hyundai) slowed down and began talking to her.
The girl was "already on high alert" thanks to an alert sent out in her school, and she quickly left the scene. As she left, the suspect reached out and touched her hand. Police interviewed the girl, and are now trying to identify the suspect.
"We don't want to cause panic, we want people to be cautious," said Det. David Brady, the lead investigator on the case.
"We want to talk to this man."
Police are reviewing surveillance video from nearby homes with hopes of getting a better look at the suspect. Brady said he believes the man is the same suspect involved in two similar incidents on Nov. 4 and 5.
On Nov. 4, the male suspect pulled up alongside a 17-year-old girl walking on Queensdale Ave. E., near Wentworth St., and asked her personal questions before offering her a ride. The teenage girl decline and the suspect left.
On Nov. 5, a 16-year-old girl was approached near Callie Rd. and Aldemey Ave., and also asked a series of personal questions.
In neither instance did the suspect touch the girls, or threaten them.
The suspect is described as a black male, between 25- and 30-years-old, who stands about 6' with black hair and a goatee. Police said the man doesn't have an accent, and at one point wore a black leather jacket.
Series of events rattles schools
Across Hamilton, there have been four similar cases of children being approached by strangers reported this month, but Brady said those are not linked to the Mountain-area investigation.
On Thursday, police sent an alert to Holy Name of Jesus Elementary after a 6-year-old boy was approached by a man who made inappropriate remarks. The boy fled and was unharmed, and later told his parents who alerted police.
Marnie Jadon, Communications Officer for the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, said the police alert was passed on to students and parents at the school.
Today, Jadon said, school staff are taking the opportunity to remind students of "stranger danger."
Police investigations into these incidents are ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.