Waterloo Regional Police are warning parents and their children ahead of the August Civic Holiday weekend to be on the lookout for a suspicious man approaching girls.
"We don't want to be scaring anybody," Waterloo Regional Police Staff Sgt. Shaena Morris said Thursday. "We just want people to pay a little more attention; be a little more aware of who is in their neighbourhood."
The warning comes after a pair of incidents during the Victoria Day and Canada Day long weekends that police believe may involve the same suspect.
Same suspect likely behind both incidents
The first happened on Monday, May 19, at 5:30 p.m. according to police. Three children were playing at a creek near Parkside Drive in Waterloo when a man spoke to one of the girls and then was seen touching her.
The man in that incident is described as thin, white, in his 20s, with light brown hair, blue eyes, a scratch on his face near his right ear.
Police say he stands between 5 feet 4 inches and 5 feet 6 inches tall and was wearing faded blue jeans with no back pockets, a plain, brown shirt with black Sketchers running shoes.
The second incident, on Saturday June 28th, happened in Kitchener on Holborn Drive. Police say two girls were playing behind a townhouse complex when they were approached by a man who tried to engage them in conversation and then asked if they would go with him to a nearby park.
The man involved was similarly described, but wearing a brown checked shirt and sunglasses.
Stranger danger: advice from police
Staff Sgt. Shaena Morris said parents should have an open discussion with their children about personal safety.
"You talk openly and honestly with them. Just make sure that they know who's around in their area and that they stick together in groups and always report anything suspicious to their parents," she said, noting parents need to know where their kids are all the time.
Morris also had advice for children if they notice something strange: "They need to tell someone, like an adult or a person in authority that they trust, so that way more people can get a description of the person, that's really important to us."
"Sometimes children's descriptions differ from adults, so if they're able to get an adult or an older person to see who this is and call the police, maybe get us a detailed description."
"Licence plates are very, very helpful in these situations," she said.