PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) –Three incidents of strangers trying to lure kids in just three weeks, all near the same Phoenix elementary school. The school district is warning parents to stay vigilant.
The principal of Westwood Elementary School sent a letter to parents Monday in response to an unusual incident one family experienced Monday morning.
According to Theresa Killingsworth’s letter, a man posing as a Westwood teacher knocked on the door of the family’s home and told them he was there to take their daughter to school.
“The person was described as a tall, chubby, brown-skinned Hispanic male with a beard, wearing glasses, and speaking Spanish,” the letter explained.
[SEE: April 15, 2019 letter]
The Alhambra Elementary school district confirms it would never send a teacher to escort a child to school.
"You should always question, ask their name, ask for identification, but most importantly never send your children with someone you don't know," said Linda Jeffries with the Alhambra Elementary School District.
She also explained that administers might occasionally visit a student’s home, but it’s always a planned visit, and the administrator will show identification.
It was not the first time a suspicious person had tried to take a child in that same neighborhood, according to the school.
Westwood sent another letter home Tuesday after "a suspicious man tried to lure a neighborhood girl into his vehicle this morning on the way to school."
[SEE: April 16, 2019 letter]
The principal provided a description of the person -- an Asian man in his 30's driving a white truck with the word "Royal" on the back.
The letter was similar to one she sent home after another luring incident on March 27.
The suspect in that case is a man with brown skin and black hair. He was wearing black gloves with red palms and driving a two-door tan car with a black grill.
[SEE: March 27, 2019 letter]
"Our top priority is always the safety of our students whether they're in our care or to and from school. and so to know that there are individuals out in our community who are targeting our children, it is especially unnerving to us," said Jeffries.
All three times, students and parents did the right thing and called police.
"We teach her a safety word every week and it changes up so if a stranger would come up and they don't know the safety word she knows better not to go with the person," said parent Alex Rodriguez, speaking of his 6-year-old daughter.
But the frequency of these encounters is starting to rattle parents.
"It's pretty scary to think about someone trying to come up and try to take the kids or try to talk to them," said Rodriguez.
The school district advises students to:
• Always be aware of their surroundings
• Report suspicious activity immediately
• Never walk alone, always in pairs or with a group
• Do not speak or respond to strangers
And it asks its parents to:
• Keep an eye on children playing outside
• Teach children it's OK to say 'no.'
• Keep updated photographs of their children
If you have any questions about the school's policies and procedures, particularly about home visits, please call the school at 602-242-2442.