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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Schools on stranger danger alert

By Geoff Vause
[email protected]
School students are keeping their eyes open for ‘stranger danger’ around several Masterton schools.
There have been at least two incidents of students being offered rides by a man resembling Sideshow Bob from the Simpsons, and Wairarapa College students are staying alert while making their way to and from school.
On Wednesday police were told a man in “a white older-style Mazda with a broken tail light”, had stopped near Douglas Park School children on Pownall St and Cambridge Terrace.
“He asked the children if they wanted a free taxi ride,” Acting Senior Sergeant Richie Day said.
“After refusing the ride the children saw the man stop at another group of children further down the road.”
Mr Day said the man was described as Caucasian, in his late 20s, with “crazy hair like Sideshow Bob”.
He had a fox terrier dog in the car with him.
A Facebook post by a concerned parent had noted the same incident, giving the time at 3.10pm.
That post described a Caucasian in his 20’s with “big, messy hair” and also recorded the white vehicle and broken tail light.
The post said the man offered a free taxi ride to four Douglas Park School pupils, and when refused he approached three Waicol students at the end of Villa St.
Waicol principal Shelley Power, who has been in the job only four weeks, said the school was quite concerned by the incident.
Ms Power said information was coming in “bits and pieces” and was anecdotal, but there may have been a similar incident a week ago.
She said she was aware of one direct approach involving students from another school.
Waicol students were staying alert to the risks and concentrating on student safety “particularly in the area between here and Masterton Intermediate School”.
Ms Power said the police were fully informed on the incidents.
Douglas Park School principal Richard Brown said he heard on Wednesday evening an approach was made by a person to a group of four of his students.
“After rejection by them the person turned the vehicle around and approached a group of secondary students,” Mr Brown said.
He said the school published Keeping Ourselves Safe guidelines and reminded families to discuss their guidelines for safety.
He said staff were alerted to the incident and reviewed Keeping Ourselves Safe procedures with their students that day.
Crossing patrol duty teachers were alerted to a description of the person and vehicle.
“The potential presence of the person was minimised on Thursday with school closing at lunchtime for an unrelated reason,” Mr Brown said.
Russell Thompson at Masterton Intermediate said if anyone tried similar things with his students in the near future it was likely they would have number plates recorded.
“We discussed this with our children since the [indecent act] incident a couple of weeks back,” Mr Thompson said.
“If someone tried this tomorrow with our kids it’s likely they’d get the number plate.
“They know to whip out the cell phone and get a photo.”
He said they believed in keeping the students well informed.
“It’s better to talk with the kids about these things. They respond sensibly most of the time.”
Mr Thompson had high praise for the way the police responded to the incidents, including the earlier one.
Mr Day said anyone with information that could help find the man and vehicle should call the police.

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