A man taking photographs of children at a local church playground Thursday gave church employees cause for suspicion, especially after an attempted abduction reported in the vicinity weeks earlier.
The man, who was described as having a pale complexion, white hair, a mark on his face and between 60 and 70 years of age, approached the First United Methodist Church playground on Walnut Street and began taking pictures of the children playing, said Statesboro Police Capt. Scott P. Brunson.
Church employees confronted the man, who told them he was from out of town and “just wanted to take pictures,” he said. The man left afterwards, heading down South Walnut Street in a gray sedan-type car, he said.
The incident was reported about an hour after it occurred, Brunson said.
The suspicious act took place within walking distance of the downtown parking area at the corner of Vine and Walnut streets where, a couple of weeks ago, a man in his 60s, driving a small red truck, grabbed a teenage girl and tried to force her into the vehicle, he said. The girl was able to break away and flee.
Since that incident, area citizens have been alert and concerned, he said. Another suspicious incident was reported at the Brooklet Recreation Department park last week, said Brooklet Police Chief Mike Buchan.
A responding officer found no suspicious vehicles or people in the area, but the anonymous caller reported a man in a red truck cruising slowly in the area, he said.
Since then, citizens have been reporting sightings of red trucks constantly, he said.
Alerts on Facebook pages, where people have posted warnings of similar sightings, are only serving to spread panic, Buchan said. "The Facebook posts have blown things out of proportion.”
Many people have posted comments referring to “the kidnapper,” but no kidnapping or abduction has taken place, he said. However, “people should still be alert and watch for suspicious incidents or people.”
“Be vigilant, but don’t panic,” he said. “We have had no abductions, only suspicious incidents, but please do report suspicious persons or incidents as soon as possible. Don’t delay.”
Buchan advised people to be reasonable, but “ Don’t take chances. Keep your guard up, but we don’t want people afraid of every red truck they see.”
To report incidents, contact the Statesboro Police Department at 764-9911, dial 911 or call your local police department .