At least four incidents of men approaching children in Amherst, Orchard Park

AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – Police say in the same day two middle school students were approached by a man asking if they needed a ride, two high school girls were approached an hour earlier.

Amherst Police warned residents Thursday of a suspicious man in a vehicle who approached two girls just before 4 p.m. at the corner of Cherrywood and Birchwood while they were walking home from Heim Middle School. The male driver stopped his vehicle and asked the girls if they needed a ride. The girls ran home and the man drove off in an unknown direction.

Now officers say just an hour earlier, a man approached high school two girls as they walked home from Williamsville East.

Police say in both cases, the man was driving a bright red sedan and wearing red sunglasses. The man is described as a white male between 40- to 50-years-old with blond hair. He was wearing flannel pajama pants.

Amherst Police Assistant Chief Charles Cohen said, “We obviously have extra patrols in the area.”

The warning in Amherst on Thursday came on the same day police in Orchard Park were warning parents about a man who tried to get a boy to enter his vehicle. That incident happened around 4 p.m. on Tuesday on Milestrip Road. The incidents do not appear to be connected because in this case, the teen was approached by a man described as white, between 20- and 30-years-old, with a medium build and dark hair. He was driving a gray Pontiac sedan.

On Friday, News 4 learned there were two other incidents in Orchard Park where a man approached children. Chief Mark Pacholec says on February 22, an older man in a red van approached children on Larned Lane. Then on Thursday, a man who may have been partially unclothed was seen walking on Sheldon Road from Teachers Lane. But he says none of the three incidents appear to be related.

Chief Pacholec says one of the problems police have encountered is that the incidents are not being reported in a timely manner. The incident on Tuesday wasn’t reported until the next day. And the incident on Larned Lane wasn’t reported for around a day and a half.

“Our ability to successfully investigate them is greatly diminished,” he said. “When we get these reported timely, we need to get as much information from the victims as possible. The more the time drags out, the harder it is to do that.”

Both Assistant Chief Cohen and Chief Pacholec offered this advice for children:

  • Don’t walk alone. Walk with a friend it at all possible.
  • Don’t wear earbuds. It diminishes your awareness of your surroundings.
  • If you become alarmed by a situation, don’t hide. Stay in the open where people are able to see you.
  • If somebody approaches you that you don’t know, go the other way.
  • If you have a cell phone, immediately call for help by dialing 911.

Police are searching for surveillance video in all of the incidents and even looking up registered sex offenders in the area to see if they match any of the suspects’ descriptions.

If you see any suspicious person approaching children, call 911. If you have information about the Amherst case, call detectives at 689-1311. And if you know anything about what took place in Orchard Park, call 662-6444.

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