Riverside police on Friday issued a “precautionary warning” to parents of Riverside school children after district officials reported an unknown woman taking photos of several students outside Hauser Junior High School and Ames School on Wednesday morning.
A woman described as being approximately 30 to 40 years old and having a heavy eastern European accent reportedly approached three girls outside of Hauser Junior High during the morning drop-off period, telling them she was from a newspaper and wanted to take their photographs.
The three girls agreed to be photographed, after which the woman got into a vehicle that may have been a gray Honda Civic and drove away. Police said that the woman did not ask the children for their names, and the children did not identify themselves to the woman.
School officials contacted Riverside police at 2:40 p.m. on Wednesday after both students told staff members about the incident.
While investigating the incident at Hauser, police learned a similar incident occurred at Ames School that morning.
According to Police Chief Thomas Weitzel, the woman was seen taking photos of the area around Ames School and possibly took photos of children getting out of vehicles. It’s unclear whether the woman approached or spoke with any children at Ames.
The woman did not have any physical contact with the children in either incident, police said.
Hauser Junior High School Principal Steve Juracka contacted the Landmark and the Suburban Life to determine if either newspaper had assigned a photographer to take photographs that morning at the school. Neither newspaper had made any such assignment.
Riverside police are contacting other media outlets to see if the woman may have been on assignment in Riverside. Police are also checking with neighboring municipalities to see if similar incidents have occurred elsewhere.
In response to the concern, Riverside police have increased patrols near schools in the morning and afternoon, said Police Chief Thomas Weitzel.
Anyone with information is asked to call Riverside Police at 708-447-2127 or email Detective Sgt. Frank Lara at firstname.lastname@example.org.