Students reportedly targeted by man in minivan

Police have issued an alert after getting reports this week of a man trying to lure a student into a van and taking pictures of other students at school bus stops in and around Grants Pass.

In the first incident, which occurred shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday, a man tried to talk a 12-year-old girl into his van on Williams Highway near New Hope Road, according to a news release by the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety.

Police interviewed the girl and were able to get a description of the man and his vehicle. He was described as white, in his 30s or 40s, and wearing a black, hooded sweatshirt and an orange and green vest. The van was an older minivan, possibly gray.

The girl said the man tried several times to talk her into the van, telling her that the bus had already passed and he would give her a ride to school. The student refused and the man left when the bus arrived.

In the second incident, at about 6:30 a.m. Thursday, a man reportedly took several pictures of students as he stood behind a minivan in the area of East Park Street and Southeast Vista Drive. When the school bus arrived, he hid inside the van until the bus passed.

The man was described as white, in his 30s or 40s, with a thin build, a dark tan and short, dark and curly hair and facial hair. He wore a blue T-shirt. The van was teal-blue.

Further investigation indicated the man may have had a goatee and a pierced bottom lip, and wore blue jeans. The van had a rounded body and may have been around 10 years old, but the specific make and the license number were not available, the release said.

Bus drivers and all other Grants Pass School District staff have been notified of the incidents and told to contact police if they observe any suspicious activity near bus stops.

The public is also urged to report any similar suspicious activity or further information about the Wednesday or Thursday incidents to the city Department of Public Safety at 541-450-6260. Parents are urged to advise their children never to accept rides from strangers and to report all suspicious behavior to the bus driver or other school staff as soon as possible.

Based on the descriptions of the vehicles and the actions of the man, it is believed these incidents are related, the news release said. Both cases remain under investigation.

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