Some primary schoolchildren in Christchurch are being warned
about possible sex predators trying to trick them with: "Your
mum sent me to pick you up."
St Albans School says three incidents have been reported
recently where pupils told their parents of being approached
by strangers while walking to and from school.
In a fourth incident, a man outside St Albans School was seen
acting suspiciously and taking photos.
"Three children, one girl and two boys have been approached
in the past couple of months and encouraged to go with men
who have said 'we know your parents', 'or your mum sent me to
pick you up'," said St Albans School principal Ginnie Warren.
She wouldn't give specific details of what had happened after
the children were approached, but said they had "got away".
"After the terrible case in Timaru it has made us very aware
that it takes a community to keep our children safe - bad
people are out there," said Mrs Warren.
Earlier this last month a nine-year-old Timaru boy was
allegedly abducted on his way home from school and was found
with head injuries 15km away from the school. A 26-year-old
old man has been arrested.
"I would ask parents to be hyper-vigilant and if you feel
safe take a photo of the person. Although I don't want
parents to overreact I'm always over-cautious in this
situation - it is scary."
Police are investigating.
Senior Sergeant Pete Stills said that earlier in the year
they had similar reports from St Albans, Merivale, Bryndwr,
Northcote and Casebrook areas about a man acting suspiciously
but reports had ceased since they had spoken to a man.
"We believe it was the same man from the description we were
given. We spoke to the man, who has a history of this type of
behaviour and lives in the area. We continue to monitor his
Senior Sergeant Stills said it was vital parents educate
their children not to fall for approaches being made by
"Make sure your children know that if you cannot make it to
pick them up then you will let them know either through the
school or contacting them directly. Make sure your children
know not to ever fall for that."
Mr Stills said police had spoken to a man in the Elmwood area
earlier in the year who was doing "some unusual things".
"There was a guy in a van who lived in the Elmwood area who
did some unusual things, hanging around schools, driving
slowly past. We spoke to him and monitored his behaviour," he
"We did have some stuff reported of adults trying to entice
children into a car by offering incentives like sweets or
saying 'mum can't pick you up and they sent me'.
"We would encourage parents to sit down and discuss stranger
danger with children ... what would they do if someone you
didn't know approached you," he said.
Mrs Warren encouraged parents to talk to their children about
who was picking them up from school each day.
"We have talked to the community constable and community
watch are patrolling more regularly around the school," she
The school plans to involve police in teaching their Keeping
Ourselves Safe unit in 2013.
- Shelley Robinson of the News Advertiser