WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wake Forest police and town leaders are responding to concerns over recent reports of strangers approaching children in their neighborhoods.
Police Chief Jeff Leonard said in a press conference Tuesday that parents need to do their part to responsibly help police put an end to these run-ins with strangers. He mentioned Facebook posts regarding the incidents that have led police to use precious time and resources tracking down what turns out to be hearsay.
"Facebook posters who spread rumors and incite additional panic in an already tense situation are only serving to make our community more on edge," said Leonard.
Wake Forest police are currently following up on three different incidents where children as young as four-years-old reported strangers approaching them.
"It is clear that in recent weeks the sense of safety and security that has been a hallmark of our community has been shaken," said Leonard.
The first cases happened on Dec. 26 and 27 in the Heritage and Carriage Run neighborhoods. The latest happened on Sunday in the Northampton subdivision. In all of them, children reported men driving a gray SUV or work van pulling up beside them, asking them to come closer to the car. Some children said the men offered them rides and were asking about a missing kitten.
In neighboring Rolesville, police are leaving automated messages with residents warning them of the recent incidents and encouraging conversations about stranger danger awareness.
"It feels great that everyone's on top of it, everyone's looking out," said Cara Kelly of Rolesville. "We're all looking for that van and we're definitely being proactive."
Wake Forest police said a separate incident Monday night near the Bowling Green subdivision is not related to the other cases. A 13-year-old girl reported being grabbed by a stranger who told her to take some pills.
Police said the girl told them she took the pills and ran away to a nearby home. She was treated at WakeMed and released. Preliminary reports out of the hospital show she did not have any medication in her system.
Anyone with information on a luring incident is encouraged to contact the Wake Forest Police Department at (919)554-6150.