Suspicious man addresses children at Griffith's Central Park, asks girl if she needs a ride

Griffith's Central Park.

Police are looking for a suspicious man who reportedly approached children at Griffith's Central Park Monday, calling one to come to him and asking a young girl if she needed a ride.

People reported three separate incidents with a suspicious man that took place at 1:15 p.m., 1:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Monday at the park at 600 N. Park Street just north of downtown Griffith. He approached children during two of the incidents, according to the Griffith Police Department.

A person initially called 911 to report a man in a burgundy shirt and black hat, alleged to be “standing around and looking like he doesn’t belong."

Police tracked down the man, who told officers he was there with his grandchildren, who he then called over to him. Officers identified the man and left the scene.

Then a second caller told police an older male with a burgundy shirt and gray-braided hair called over a child who was playing at the park while being watched by a babysitter. Police were unable to find the suspicious person or the caller, but continued to monitor the park and informed the child's father about what happened.

Then a woman reported “older white male, slightly heavyset, wearing a black shirt with short gray hair staring towards the park while in a silver SUV,” according to the Griffith Police Department. The man reportedly asked a young girl if she needed a ride before driving south on Broad Street, an incident that was reported to a police officer a few blocks away 15 minutes later.

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Police could not locate any suspicious person or vehicle at the park.

"Police want to remind residents that the parks are monitored by officers as well as security cameras. However, police urge anyone who observes anything suspicious to contact police immediately with as much information as possible to assist in locating and investigating the matter," the Griffith Police Department said in a news release. "Police will continue to look into these incidents and patrol the area, and will follow up with criminal charges if warranted."

Police are asking anyone who witnessed any of the incidents first hand to step forward with information.

"Investigating officers often find that accounts of incidents are reported inaccurately due to being based on third or fourth party accounts," Griffith police said in a news release.

Anyone with information should contact Detective Commander Keith Martin at 219-924-7503 ext 257.

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.