Three recent incidents involving children in Spalding County have parents worried someone is targeting their kids.
In all three incidents, the people were driving vehicles and approached children while they were alone, Channel 2 Action News reported. The odd encounters were first shared to social media, and the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office said they are actively investigating.
“Currently there is no indication that these incidents are related,” the sheriff’s office said on Facebook. “However, they are being taken seriously and are being investigated.”
One woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said a man driving a white work van approached her son outside their Baptist Camp Road home Wednesday.
“He pulled up to my property and tried to get my son to get off his dirt bike and into this van,” she told Channel 2. “I ran to the gate where my son was located, made my son back up and tried to run this man off.”
According to deputies, the man reportedly told the mother, “I’m coming back for you and your kids.”
When she tried to get vehicle information, he backed down the road to get away.
“This does not appear to be an attempted child abduction but may instead be tied to a series of thefts that have occurred in that area,” the sheriff’s office said.
Two days earlier, a woman in a mid-90s Ford van approached a small boy in Orchard Hill Park, a witness said on social media. The woman took his hand and walked him to the back of the park. An adult who knew the child became suspicious.
“The citizen made contact with that individual, because she knew the child didn't belong to her,” Sgt. Raymond Hightower told the news station. “There was some interaction. The female let go of the child and took off running. She got into the van and left the area.”
The incident was not initially reported to authorities. Deputies tracked down the bystander through Facebook on Wednesday, and she worked with a sketch artist to help identify the woman in the park.
Her description “closely matches” that of a woman who posed as a Division of Children and Family Services worker in the area of Runaway Lake near Griffin last month, authorities said.
The woman knocked on a family’s door and claimed the state would be taking custody of their children.
“She bent over and tried to grab my son, so I swatted her hand away,” the mother, Hannah Jackson, told Channel 2. “I said, ‘No, ma’am, I don’t let strangers hold my kids.’ So she stood up and looked at me like I was crazy and left.”
The woman identified herself as Christie, but investigators determined there is no Christie employed with DFCS.
On Friday night, Milner police Chief Mike Bailey told Spalding County deputies that one of his officers responded to an attempted child abduction call on Main Street, the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post.
The post said the suspect fit the description of the sketched female, and she was driving a black Jeep Cherokee with no tag.
Authorities are asking residents to call 911 as soon as they see anything suspicious.
“We will get the call and get to the scene faster than we will if you post it on social media,” the sheriff’s office said. “Call as soon as you can, be a good witness, stay on the line, and continue to give the dispatcher information and follow the person as you talk. If you must protect yourself, a child or another person, do so, and do so with all your might.”
Meanwhile, many parents are on edge.
“You never know,” one woman said, “if you’re going to walk into the house, come back out and the kids aren't going to be there.”
Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to contact Sgt. Ray Hightower at 770-467-4282, ext. 5402.