By Bob Uphues
Three pre-teen girls in two separate incidents were approached by an unfamiliar man in his 20s as they walked along neighborhood sidewalks in Oak Park on late Tuesday afternoon, police have reported. In one incident the man reportedly asked if the girl wanted a ride. In the other, he asked two pre-teens "if they wanted to hang out."
According to a press release issued by Oak Park Police late Wednesday afternoon, it's not clear whether the two incidents, which happened within an hour of one another, are related.
In the first incident, which occurred about 4:15 p.m. near Wesley Avenue and Adams Street, an 11-year-old girl said that a blue sedan headed north on Wesley Avenue pulled up from behind and the driver lowered the window to ask if she wanted a ride, police said.
The girl was walking home from Rehm Pool at the time, according to police, and the girl ran from the vehicle to her home nearby. The driver of the vehicle was described as a white male, about 25 years old, with blonde hair and a beard and wearing a rainbow-colored shirt.
The second incident happened in the vicinity of the 400 block of North Harvey Avenue. Police reported that two 12-year-old girls said they were approached by a man, who was on foot and asked them "if they wanted to hang out."
The girls immediately turned around and walked back to a residence in the 400 block of North Harvey Avenue, according to police.
That suspect was described as a white male in his 20s, with short brown hair and a beard, about 5-foot-8 or 5-foot-9, with a slim build and wearing a long-sleeved possibly red-and-white shirt and beige pants. The man appeared to have trouble walking and had slurred speech, police said.
"These types of incidents are unnerving, but the victims clearly knew what to do and did it," Oak Park Police Chief Rick Tanksley said in the press release. "I urge parents to make sure their children know to never approach an unknown adult under such circumstances, and to immediately get to a safe place and call 911."
Tanksley also asked residents to be vigilant and to never hesitate to report strangers in their neighborhoods.
Anyone with information is asked to call 708-386-3800 or email email@example.com. Anonymous tips can be made at 708-434-1636 or online at www.oak-park.us/crimetips.
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