MANALAPAN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Parents in Central New Jersey are being told to talk to their children about stranger danger following two incidents in which a man approached kids and said he needed help looking for a pet.
In Manalapan, a man tried to lure three boys into his car along Lamb Lane late Sunday morning, saying he was trying to find his cat, police told CBS2’s Emily Smith. The boys — ages 10, 12 and 13 — ran away to tell their parents.
In Jackson, a similar incident occurred involving a man with the same description needing help looking for a dog.
Police want everyone to be aware of what’s been happening.
“Listen, you can’t talk to people,” Manalapan Deputy Police Chief Mike Fountain said. “Stranger means danger.
“We want to make sure that they know upfront and they have a little reference in the back of their head: ‘This is what I should do if I’m in an encounter that I’m uncomfortable with,'” Fountain added.
The suspect has been described as a man in his 50s with brown and gray shoulder-length hair, a mustache and puffy eyes. The boys described his car as a silver four-door sedan with New Jersey license plates.
“You know you do hear stories here and there, but it’s nothing crazy like this, what’s going on lately,” said Tracy Garret, a Manalapan mother.
Thirteen-year-old Michael Garret said he would “probably find the closest adult and tell them” if he encountered a stranger claiming to need help finding a pet.
“I wouldn’t believe them. I would just like back away from them,” said Raquel Pagan, 12.
Police say children should run or even scream for help if they find themselves in such an encounter, and call the cops to alert them.
Police are sending out extra patrols in Manalapan.
Meanwhile, one town over in Wall, police confirm that a stranger sent sent a text message to a middle school student asking the young teenager to meet at Applebee’s.
That incident prompted school officials to notify all students and parents to talk to their kids about stranger danger. The school had no comment Tuesday.