NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Worries were mounting Friday about a man in a van who may be trying to lure children in Queens with a puppet.
As CBS2’s Erin Logan reported, several kids in Whitestone, Queens said it happened to them.
Brothers Sophocles, 8, and Vasilios, 11, were outdoors on their iPad looking at their favorite YouTube channel Friday. They do so often and laugh together. But on Thursday night, there was anything but humor.
“The guy pulled in front of us and said: ‘What are you doing? Where are you going?’” Sophocles said. “And he started talking with the puppet.”
“He was a tan man with a mustache – like a big mustache — and the puppet; he was trying to hide his face,” Vasilios said.
The puppet also had a mustache and was wearing a chef suit, the boys said.
It happened around 7 p.m. Thursday. The brothers were walking home from their neighborhood park with their neighbors – a brother and sister – near Third Avenue and Powells Cove Boulevard.
The boys said they were talking about a YouTube channel with characters when all of a sudden, the man in the white van stuck the chef puppet outside the passenger side window.
Vasilios said the man said to the group: “’Hey kids — where are you going? Are you having fun or something? What are you doing?’ We all got really scared and we just kept running home.”
Vasilios said he and the other kids in the group did not answer the man.
“We just ran,” he said.
The kids made it about halfway home before the man with the puppet tried talking to them. They are not sure if he spotted them while they were at the park or after they had left the park.
The boys’ dad, Spyros, said as soon as they got home, the other parent called 911 when her daughter walked in crying.
Police confirmed they went to that home and a report was filed.
Spyros said he is afraid to leave the kids alone, even though he feels a short trip to the park would be safe.
“One moment you’re not there, and that’s what it happens,” he said.
“I’m a little scared now,” added Sophocles. “But I don’t want this to happen again.”
The boys said they are glad their parents taught them at a very young age never to acknowledge or even look at a stranger.