Police are stepping up warnings about stranger danger after a man tried to entice two schoolgirls into his vehicle in a busy Whangarei street.
The mother of one of the girls spent yesterday going from door to door in her Kensington neighbourhood warning other parents of the man's actions.
The incident follows reports of a man with a similar description hiding near a school and taking photos of children and one seen hanging about at Whangarei Library watching children. Whangarei police are warning parents and schools to be vigilant and to ensure children know the safety message.
''We are taking these reports very seriously. If anyone sees someone behaving suspiciously around schools or children they should try to take details, like registration plates, and let us know as soon as possible," Sergeant Neil Pennington said.
"We want parents to know we will give these calls priority. Kids' safety is paramount."
The man cited in the reports is Caucasian, has a deeply wrinkled face, appears dishevelled, with grey curly hair and a beard or other facial hair, Mr Pennington said.
The description matches the person seen on Monday morning in bushes near the Christian Renewal School in Tarewa Rd. It also matches the man reportedly seen watching children at Whangarei Central Library this week.
The man who approached the girls in Kamo Rd was driving a dark grey or blue van with a black roofrack and tinted windows.
The mother of one of the girls said her 9-year-old daughter and her 13-year-old friend were near the Tui Butchery about 3pm on Wednesday when the man pulled up and shouted at them to get in.
The girls ran away without the man trying to stop them. Both girls had been shaken by the experience, she said.
"I'm not sure what this guy is up to but I really hope other parents get the warning out to their children. If this is the same man, he seems to be getting closer.
"We try not to dwell on what might have happened but I want to encourage parents and schools to reinforce the safety message."