There was a warning from police about a child predator, trying to pick up small town, teenage girls in Illinois. The 3 most cases were in Highland this week. The victims ranged in age from 13-15, police said.
Investigators had connected 6 cases Wednesday, 5 in Highland since June; one in nearby Alhambra from October.
Police said he always appeared in the late afternoon hours, approaching girls as they walked on along sidewalks, often driving out from an alley.
Fox 2 interviewed 3 victims Wednesday night and two of their mothers. Fox 2 did not release their identities.
"He said, `hey girls`. We turned around. He was asking us directions to the library," a 13 year old said of her encounter with the man Monday afternoon on Washington in Highland.
He approached her and her 13 year old friend. Both girls were 8th graders at school.
"So I told him, `straight up the road`. Then he kept saying, `I don`t know if I can find that`," said the friend.
The small town sidewalks that had always seemed so safe, suddenly seem 'anything but safe'.
Parents said they stopped letting their kids ride their around the neighborhood anymore.
The most recent victim as a 15 year old girl around 4:30 Tuesday afternoon.
"He`s like, 'get in', and then I took my bag and ran," she said.
"My fear is he would approach someone little and they fall for his trick and he gets them. What would we do," the girl`s mother said.
"We notified all the residents in town to be on the lookout. We notified our school system to be on the lookout. We take this threat as very serious and we have a lot of manpower out there right now looking for this person," said Highland Police Chief Terry Bell.
Students said there were announcements about the incidents at school Wednesday.
Police said the same suspect has tried this 5 time since June:
On Zschokke Street the first time; then along Washington in October; again on Washington Monday afternoon; on nearby Lindenthal about a half hour later; on Pestalozzi Tuesday.
Police said in most cases, the suspect makes sexual comments - and fondles himself.
"He was like, `hey girls`, we turned around and said,`yeah`, (he said) `have you ever seen a (penis) before`?" said a 13 year old victim.
"You try to censor what your kids hear and see, then for some stranger to pull up and to do that, was awful," said one victim`s mother.
"I would suggest any young people who may come across this person to turn and head in the other direction. If they have a cell phone, call us right away. If they`re near a business or resident they know got to that business or resident and make contact but stay away from the vehicle and stay away from this person," Chief Bell said.
"I hope he goes to jail. I`m kind of having nightmares and it`s not normal for me," a 15 year old victim said.
Police said was a white man, 30-40 years old, with a brown "goatee", wearing a dark ball cap, which may have the word "eagles" on it; the truck is a "dark green", late 90's model , with a child car seat in front; that car seat has pink trim.
If you have any information, call Highland Police at 618-654-2131.
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