Ararat police are investigating circumstances surrounding a suspicious man who approached a nine-year-old boy at Alexandra Gardens between 9.30am and 10am on Sunday.
The boy’s mother, who did not want to be identified, said she was fishing in the garden’s pond when her son went to use the playground equipment.
She said the man approached the nine-year-old, said he was new to town, then asked if the boy would show him around.
“All of a sudden my son started heading into the gardens with this man,” she said.
“I went after him and could see my son head into the rock gardens with the man, who I lost sight of. It was very suspicious so I don’t know what his plans were, but it certainly was not above board.”
The mother said the man was tall, with a medium build, brown hair, facial hair and sores or blemishes on his face.
Northern Grampians Inspector Ian Lindsay said police were looking at all aspects of the case.
“It could be as far as an innocent approach from someone with mental health issues, an elderly and vulnerable person, a sex offender or at the high end in relation to an attempted abduction,” he said.
“If it is, we declare that down the track, but at this stage it is an investigation to determine if there was offence.”
The 45-year-old mother said it was a heart-stopping moment when she saw her son start to walk away.
“I just said to him, he cannot under any circumstances go with anyone without asking me, you can’t just go and talk to strangers,” she said.
“I said do not trust anyone unless I am there to say that person is okay, never leave my line of vision. And he said, ‘mum he was really nice’. I said yeah they are – that is how they get him.
“The police took it really seriously and said there are sexual offenders living in the community and if the description matched one of them they would chase it up.”
Inspector Lindsay said anyone with information or who had experienced a similar approach should call Ararat police on 5355 1500 or Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1800 333 000.
“We are asking for public assistance if anyone has sighted a person on this occasion and if there are any other unreported incidents of a similar approach by a male,” he said
“We do take it as a priority and will throw all the resources we can at it.”
The mother said other people she had spoken with were horrified by her story.
“Later in the day I think my son really started to see the seriousness of it,” she said.
“At the time he was annoyed because I made him stay right with me.
“I am hoping it has given him a bit of a wake up.
“I am really anxious every time I think about it,” she said.