BROOKLYN — Children near four separate Brooklyn schools were approached, grabbed and in one instance groped by strangers in the span of a week, according to police and school staff.
The incidents — which have led to one arrest so far — began early this month, but officials said it is unlikely that they were the work of the same individual.
The first known incident happened on March 3, when a man jumped out of a van at Fifth Avenue and 46th Street in Sunset Park around 7:30 a.m. and grabbed a female sixth-grader six blocks from her school, M.S. 136, according to an alert sent to parents. The NYPD did not immediately have information about the incident.
At nearly the exact same time in Prospect Heights, police say 55-year-old Andres Delacruz groped a female middle school student and tried to grab a boy walking to the campus of P.S. 9 on Underhill Avenue. He was arrested that day and released without bail, authorities said.
Less than a week later, on March 9, a man approached a male student from P.S. 11 in Clinton Hill, asking him “to come with him,” according to an email from a Department of Education security staff member. The location of the incident was not released by the DOE staffer, and the NYPD did not immediately have information about the incident.
The same day, a 10-year-old girl who goes to P.S. 20 ran away from two men in an SUV who pulled up alongside her at the corner of Myrtle and North Portland avenues and asked her to get into the vehicle, according to police and an alert sent by P.S. 20’s principal, Lena Barbera. Police released photos of the suspects' vehicle, described as a dark-colored BMW SUV.
Barbera encouraged parents to discuss precautions their children can take “to keep our students safe,” she wrote.
The string of incidents has sparked a surge of concern among parents in Park Slope, who sent out an alert through the Park Slope Parents listserv advising readers to talk to their kids about “Stranger Danger” techniques, they wrote on their Facebook page.
A Department of Education spokesman said the agency is aware of the incidents and has been in contact with the NYPD about security "in the area."