Mangano: Increased patrols in Merrick after kids report stranger encounters

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After reported incidents of a man approaching students on their way to school, Nassau County police will increase patrols and heighten security in Merrick where a weekend kids festival is being staged, County Executive Edward Mangano said Friday.

The incidents, reported between April 10 and Friday, come before Kid Fest, an outdoors event at the Merrick train station. The event is held Friday night, and Saturday and Sunday.

Mangano said he would be at the festival offering free child identification cards to attendees.

"Our children are our most precious resource and their safety is my No. 1 priority," Mangano said in a news release.

He said police have been put on "high alert" and asked residents to help by calling 911 if they see anything suspicious.

In the release, Mangano's office offered four reported incidents:

At about 7:45 a.m. Friday, at the corner of Merrick Avenue and Smith Street, an eighth grade student was walking to school when he was approached by a man on the sidewalk. The man spoke to the student in Spanish and attempted to grab him by the arm but failed to make physical contact. The student ran away and the man did not follow him. The student immediately reported the incident to the main office at Merrick Avenue Middle School, and the police went to the school to investigate.

On Friday, April 19, just after dismissal of classes in the North Merrick School District, three sixth grade students, were walking home near Fraser and William streets when a four-door grayish car with a male driver approached. The driver attempted to communicate with the students, and the students ran away safely, according to police and the district.

On Thursday, April 18, in the late afternoon, a white van followed a sixth-grader home from her bus stop near Bay and Harbor. The parent filed a report with the Seventh Precinct.

At about 7:45 a.m. on April 10, an eighth grader from Grand Avenue Middle School was approached by an old green four-door sedan. The student was walking to school on Grand Avenue when the car slowed, heading west on Grand. The driver began waving the student over, then rolled down the window. At that point, the student ran back home. Subsequently, the student's parents notified police.

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