Police investigate third alleged luring incident at Oaklands school

Detectives don't yet know if cases are connected; public urged to be vigilant

Victoria police have stepped up patrols around Oaklands elementary school during school hours after a student said he was offered money to go with a man on Tuesday.

It’s the third report of an attempted luring at the school in a month.

The 10-year-old was allegedly approached after school near the school grounds, on Belmont Avenue in Victoria. The student refused to go with the man, and went to tell a friend. The children reported the incident to adults that night.

Police don’t yet know if the incident is connected to two previous reports of attempted luring near the school grounds.

“We’re looking at that right now. We’re not seeing a lot of consistency in the three different (cases),” Det.-Sgt. Todd Wellman, with VicPD’s investigative services division, said, adding police have few leads at this early stage of the investigation.

“So we’re taking this time to alert the public and the people in that area, because this last incident on Tuesday was a little more overt than the first two.

“(In) the first two there was a male described as motioning to some kids to come over to the car, and there was no communication. And this last one there was a male close to or on the (school) grounds speaking to one of the students.”

Police were initially called to Oaklands on May 15 and 17 after two female students, similar in age to the 10-year-old boy, said they were each motioned by a man to come closer.

The incidents allegedly happened near the school grounds, around 8:30 a.m.

Descriptions of the men and vehicles involved vary. One girl reported seeing a black convertible on May 15. The second girl said she saw a van during the May 17 incident.

The frequency of the reports is “unusual,” reason why “we’re taking this time to make sure that parents and neighbours and the school are communicating well with each other and making sure that the kids are safe.”

School officials have not increased the number of supervisors in the school yard when the children are playing during lunch and recess.

“My belief is that we’ve always had comprehensive coverage, and we continue with that coverage, so I think we’ve done well in determining whether people don’t belong in our area or not,” said school principal Mike Phelan.

“I’m very concerned, but I’m confident in that what we’re doing, along with Victoria police, is right in line with what we need to do.”

School officials and detectives are continuing to advise parents to teach their children street safety, including walking to and from school in groups.

Parents are also urged to remind their kids to immediately tell school officials if they are approached by an adult.

It’s good advice for children, regardless of the school they attend, said Wellman.

“We also want to make sure that all parents and communities have an increased awareness around any school, and to report suspicious persons to police any time they see that,” the detective said.

In the most recent incident, the suspect is described as a white male in his late 30s or early 40s, with short black hair. He was clean shaven, and was wearing a black shirt, blue jeans and sunglasses at the time.

Detectives are encouraging anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity near Oaklands school on June 5 to call the Victoria police non-emergency line at 250-995-7654, or make an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

emccracken@vicnews.com