WHITTIER, Calif. (KTLA) — Police have released a sketch as they ask the public for help in locating a man suspected of kidnapping a girl in Whittier.
Several local schools have increased security as well, as the same suspect is believed to be responsible for other attempted kidnappings in the area.
Authorities say an 11-year-old girl was grabbed by a man in a mask Thursday afternoon while walking in front of Founders Park near the intersection of Broadway and Citrus.
She was put in the back seat of a car, where she saw a girl about 7-years-old who was crying.
The 11-year-old was able to get out of the car, freeing herself and the other girl. They ran in opposite directions.
The 11-year-old was able to find her way home and called police. However, the other unidentified girl’s whereabouts were unknown.
A similar incident was reported on Tuesday, February 5th at around 11:25 a.m. in the area of 13000 Broadway, near Broadway Park and several blocks from Founders Park.
17-year-old Rose Marie Hernandez was walking alone when the suspect pulled his car over and asked her if she wanted a ride.
After she told him no, he proceeded to stop the car and open the door. Hernandez fled and called the police.
Also, on February 5th, 2013 at about 4:40 p.m., a witness called reporting a suspect attempting to contact two females.
It happened in the area of 6709 Washington Ave, which is across the street from Central Park.
The witness observed two unknown high school-aged girls get into a verbal confrontation with the suspect, who told them to get into his car. The suspect fled the area.
The witness was not able to get the names of the girls, and police received no calls from the alleged victims in this case.
The Whittier Police Department believes these incidents are connected.
In all three cases, the suspect was last seen driving an unknown make or model red 2-door convertible with a tan roof and a softball-sized dent in the right rear panel.
The common suspect description is that he is Hispanic, about 25-35 years old and 5’11” to 6 feet tall, with a medium to heavy build.
In the most recent incident, the victim described the suspect as having short black hair, with a tattoo of three red dots on his left hand.
Investigators say the man is becoming more bold in recent attacks.
He used force to grab at least one girl, possibly two to put them into his car Thursday.
Authorities believe the use of a mask is also a sign that he is becoming more determined.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Whittier Police Department at 562-567-9241 or Det. Woods at 562-567-9286.