Suspicious person approaching children in Lansing, school alerts parents

Collins Road in Freeville where an elementary school student was reportedly approached by a suspicious person.

The Lansing Central School District has alerted parents of a suspicious person in the area. School officials say they received three reports of a white, male driver in a blue car approaching children in Tompkins County.

Chris Pettograsso, the acting Superintendent of Schools at Lansing Central School District, sent a message to parents on Wednesday to inform parents of a suspicious white, male driver who allegedly approached an elementary school student waiting alone for a bus to school near Collins Road in Freeville. The man was reportedly driving a blue car. He drove off when a parent opened a car door nearby.

Pettograsso sent home another letter on Thursday to update parents on the reported suspicious person. Pettograsso told parents that the school received additional reports of a suspicious male driver, driving a blue car and matching the earlier description, slowing down and briefly following a student walking on Goodman Road in Groton. The man eventually drove away.

Officials think the blue sedan in question may have bumper stickers.

In a third message sent to parents, Pettograsso reported on Thursday that the school received a third report of a suspicious white, male driver. The man reportedly got out of a vehicle and approached two children at the town park on Wednesday afternoon. The man left when a child called his parents from a cell phone. Pettograsso said that this incident possibly involved a dark-colored Jeep Cherokee.

After this third message, Pettograsso told CNY Central's Alex Dunbar that parents alerted the district about two previous incidents involving a similar scenario. One of them was last summer and the other was two or three weeks ago, according to Pettograsso.

"The police have deemed these reports to all be credible and are diligently working on this case," wrote Pettograsso in the third letter. "We are increasing the alert at this time and are requesting that all students walk in pairs (if necessary to walk) and that your child is not left alone when waiting for the bus. Please be on alert and discuss stranger safety with your child."

The letters were reportedly sent home with students, posting to the districtâ??s website, and sent to parents by text message and email.

Pettograsso asks parents in each letter to discuss stranger danger with their children. Teachers in the district will also be receiving a refresher in stranger danger procedures.

District bus drivers have also been told to keep an eye out for anything suspicious while on their routes.

Parents are being asked to report the license plate information of any blue sedans or Jeep Cherokees that match the descriptions given.