Ballyclare schools warn parents to be ‘extra vigilant’

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Several schools in the Ballyclare area have contacted parents urging them to be vigilant after two suspicious approaches to children.

A number of primary schools took the step to contact parents and guardians after two young girls were approached by a man in Ballynure at the weekend. The incident occurred just two months after a group of children in Burnside were approached by a man in similar circumstances.

On Saturday morning (June 11), two young girls reported that as they were leaving the park in the Lismenary Road area of Ballynure, a man driving a white van called over to them and asked them to get inside.

A male passerby asked the man what he was doing before he drove off in the direction of the Larne Line. The driver of the van was described as being around 40 years old and was wearing a black baseball cap.

A similar incident took place in Burnside on Saturday, April 9. It was reported that as a group of children were walking towards the Kelburn estate, a man in a van pulled up beside them and asked them to do a job for him and asked them to get into the back of his van and get crisps. The children did not enter the van and they left the area.

The man involved in the Burnside incident was described as being aged between 40 and 50, of stocky build, bald, with some grey hair at the sides.

Following Saturday’s incident in Ballynure, a text message was sent to parents by both Ballyclare Primary School and Fairview Primary School, while a letter was issued by Doagh Primary School, warning parents to be vigilant.

The text read: “Vehicle making reported suspicious approaches to children. Recently was on Lismenary Road, Ballynure. Be extra vigilant and ensure children are aware.”

Commenting on the correspondence sent from the schools, UUP councillor Vera McWilliam said: “It is very wise to send out the message and to keep parents informed. Children need to be warned about the situation and this needs to be reiterated frequently to them.”

Police have confirmed that investigations into both incidents are ongoing and they have appealed for anyone with relevant information to come forward.

“At this stage we are not directly linking the two incidents, however our enquiries are still at an early stage and we will review all similar incidents,” a PSNI spokesperson told the Times.