Sparta police are investigating an attempted luring incident that reportedly took place on Thursday when a man allegedly asked a 11-year-old girl to get in his car while she was walking home from her school bus stop, according to Sgt. John Paul Beebe.
Beebe said that the man approached the girl once she got off her bus around 5 p.m. at the intersection of Sussex Mills Road and Lambert Drive. She started walking home alone, and the male driver asked her to get in his car several times, Beebe said.
Once the girl's family member started approaching the vehicle, the driver left the scene, according to Beebe.
Beebe said the girl described the man as middle-aged, with brown hair, a tattoo on his right forearm, and wearing a black baseball hat with some red on it.
The victim described the man's car as possibly an Audi that looked "battered," and was either brown or tan colored, Beebe said.
Beebe said that Det. Terrance Mulligan is the lead investigator of the incident, and is currently working with other departments in the state that have been dealing with similar cases.
The state has seen a recent rash of luring incidents, Beebe said, and although authorities haven't been able to find a common suspect yet, he said that it is still possible.
Beebe said the incident in Sparta was reported on Saturday, two days after it allegedly occurred, and stressed the importance of residents reporting suspicious activity as soon as they see something.
"In all criminal investigations, time is always of the essence," he said. "The more time that falls between being reported and starting our investigation, it becomes that more difficult to locate these individuals."
Beebe urged residents to stay vigilant and call 911 right away if they see any acts of suspicious activity.