South Auckland families and school students have been asked to remain vigilant following the attempted snatching of a child last week.

Counties Manukau West CIB Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Brett Shields said two girls were approached by an unknown man on Friday about 3.30pm.

"The man spoke to the girls and attempted to grab one of the girl's hands. The girls ran away and sought the assistance of a member of the public," he said.

"Police visited the addresses of both girls and spoke with their parents. Police have also been in contact with the girls' school.

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"An area search was conducted by Police staff but no one was located who fit the description of the man."

The man was described as aged between 50 and 70 years old at approximately 190cm tall with ginger hair and a skull tattoo on his right hand.

Papatoetoe South School issued a notice to parents last week after the incident and principal Caroline Chawke told parents to report to police if a black van with a smashed back window covered in plastic was spotted.

"The incident has been reported to the police and they are investigating further," she said.

"As a school we will be discussing with our students how they can keep themselves safe and what they should do should someone approach them."

Shields said further inquiries are being made in relation to the man's identity and asked anyone with information to get in touch.

"Anyone with information is asked to contact Counties Manukau Police on 09 261 1300 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111," he said.

"In general, police advise anyone who doesn't feel safe or who witnesses any suspicious activity to contact police immediately by phoning 111."

In her letter, Chawke said if anyone spots someone acting suspiciously around students to take note of the person and vehicle before calling 111.

"By providing whatever information you can on this type of behaviour no matter how vague, police can act on it and possibly identify patterns and trends based on the smallest amount of information."