Are child luring incidents in Collier County related?

Posted at 7:06 PM, Oct 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-26 19:05:56-04

Three attempts to lure children in Collier County within a week have some wondering if at least two of the incidents are connected - especially after comparing the composite sketches of the suspects in the latest two incidents.

It started in Marco Island on Tuesday October 17, when a man reportedly tried to lure a 12-year-old girl into his car as she walked home from school.

Then on Thursday October 19, witnesses told deputies that a man tried to coax a young girl into his silver PT Cruiser outside East Naples Middle School. 

The third incident happened Sunday, when a man tried to lead a 3-year-old boy away from his family outside the Church of God on Collier Boulevard in Golden Gate.

The suspects in the last two incidents are described as Hispanic men in their fifties, with gray or salt-and-pepper hair. A composite sketch of the suspect in the East Naples incident shows him wearing glasses, and his hair is longer than the Golden Gate suspect. Otherwise, the two images are remarkably alike.

"They certainly look very similar," said Harry Huber, who lives near East Naples Middle School. "He might have shaved, took off his glasses and got a haircut...and they would look the same."

"We have no reason to believe they are the same person, but we can't exclude it either," Kristi Lester, a spokeswoman for the Collier County Sheriff's Office, wrote in an email to Fox 4.

Either way, the sheriff's office is urging parents to be extra cautious, especially as their children get ready to go trick-or-treating.

"What we're asking is parents to just be aware of it," said Corporal Jim Spartz of CCSO. "Traveling in groups is always good; safety in numbers. And obviously to have their parents be their eyes and ears, and watch out for them."

Anyone with any information about the child luring incidents is asked to call the Collier County Sheriff's Office at 239-252-9300.