Cahokia Schools warning parents about man offering rides to kids

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by Diana Zoga / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on January 30, 2013 at 10:17 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 31 at 10:24 AM

CAHOKIA, Il (KMOV.com) -- Wednesday evening, Cahokia School District #187 planned to place automated calls to parents, district-wide, following reports that a man approached students, offering rides to school. In one case, a parent reported that a man came to her home and asked for her five year old child by name.

"The first thing you think when somebody asks for your child?  Hold on; she's only five years old," said Tovaughna Carraway.

Tuesday morning, Carraway says a stranger in a suit came to her home.  When she didn't answer the door, the man went to his car and honked the horn.  Carraway says she stepped out onto the porch and called out to the man.  He asked if her daughter was home, saying her daughter's first name.

When Carraway questioned the man, she says that he stated, "It's about the school" and got back into his car and took off.

She called the school, which confirmed that no employee on official business was sent to her door. Carraway also called police.  She says she doesn't know how the man knew her daughter's name.  She says she doesn't display her child's name on any signs or stickers outside her home or on her car.

Tuesday afternoon, the district sent letters home with kindergarten through third grade students.

By Wednesday, Superintendent Art Ryan says he heard from at least two other families who reported other concerning incidents.

"We've gotten three separate reports of kids being approached by strangers, asking if they needed a ride to school," said Ryan.

Ryan says he spoke with the police chief who said officers would step up patrols around the schools.

It is not clear if the man in the other two incidents knew the names of the students when he approached. 

Carraway says the man did not offer her daughter a ride. He left as soon as she questioned him.

Cahokia Police are investigating Tuesday morning’s report, but say other parents have not come forward to file official police reports. Police said officers do not believe the man was from a children’s agency or DCFS because he did not show a badge.

The school district urged parents to call Cahokia Police with any information.  The superintendent says each of the reported stranger contact incidents involved elementary age students from different schools in the district.  All of the incidents reportedly happened off-campus.

The description of the man who went to Carraway's home on Tuesday is a white male, between 40 and 50 years old. He is about six feet tall and 180 pounds with salt and pepper hair and a mustache. He wore a suit and drove a silver, older model Lincoln (possibly a Town Car).

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