Police: Keep eyes peeled for child prowler

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Similarities in four separate attempts to entice or capture teens and younger children in Gwinnett since January have led police to believe the same man could be behind them, officials said.

The incidents, outlined by Gwinnett police on Monday, read like the scenarios that beware-of-strangers programs are made for. They've occurred at all hours of the day, across southern and southwestern Gwinnett. Potential victims have ranged in age from 8 to 13 years old, said Gwinnett police Cpl. Edwin Ritter.

In three cases, the perpetrator was said to be driving a gold passenger car. In two cases, victims said he wore a black mask.

Members of the department's special victims unit believe the incidents, spanning from Jan. 31 to March 13, could be the same person targeting children, Ritter said.

Police "would like to remind people to be extra vigilant with their children and their activities" and to report anything suspicious in Gwinnett neighborhoods, Ritter said.

Ritter provided a synopsis for each incident, as outlined below:

-- 7:50 a.m., Jan. 31, on Ivy Chase Lane near Norcross. The alleged victim was a 13-year-old girl walking back to her apartment after dropping her brother off a bus stop. The suspect, described as a bald black man in his mid-30s with facial hair, pulled up next to her and yelled, "Hey," then opened his door to take a picture of her before fleeing the area, Ritter said. His vehicle was described as a gold, four-door sedan without center hubcaps and with chrome trim around the door frames.

-- 7 p.m., Feb. 16, at Peachtree Corners Circle and Brandywine Trail near Norcross. A 14-year-old girl was walking when the suspect pulled up next to her, asked for her age and if she wanted a ride. "He also asked her if she would like to make a few hundred dollars, and she told him 'no,'" Ritter said. When the suspect told the girl to wait while he parked, so he could get out and talk to her, she ran away, and he drove off. He was described as a black man with short hair, wearing a black, short-sleeve shirt with a green and yellow design on the front. The vehicle was described as an older-model, gold passenger car, possibly a Toyota Corolla.

-- 1 p.m., Feb. 28, in the 2200 block of Boone Place near Snellville. An 8-year-old boy was walking home when the suspect pulled up next to him in what was described as a gold car, possibly a Chevrolet Malibu, and ordered the boy to get in the car, Ritter said. The boy noticed that the suspect had a short black pistol, so he began to run away; another vehicle came around the corner, and the suspect drove off. The suspect was described as a man with a deep voice, wearing a black mask covering his face and black gloves.

-- 6:30 a.m., March 13, in the 3200 block of Sunrise Village Lane near Norcross. An 11-year-old girl walking to her bus stop was chased by a masked suspect. The victim ran and yelled, and when she turned around, the man was gone. "A juvenile witness stated that she has seen the suspect on two separate occasions while walking her dog in the afternoon hours," Ritter said. "Both times she saw the suspect he was wearing a black mask." On one of those occasions, the suspect approached her and her dog snapped at him, and the man walked away, Ritter said.

Police ask anyone with information about the suspect's identify to call the Gwinnett police criminal investigations section at 770-513-5300.

Ritter advised anyone who encounters the man to avoid interacting with him and call 911.