When a Stranger Takes Photographs

Parents on the Lookout

Saturday, May 8, 2010  |  Updated 9:27 AM EDT
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When a Stranger Takes Photographs

Bronxville Elementary School

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When is taking photographs a police matter? When a stranger is photographing young girls...for no clear reason. That's what police say happened in Bronxville on Tuesday. And now, they're asking parents to be on the lookout.

Bronxville Police Chief Christopher Satriale says his department received a tip on Tuesday morning that a man was taking pictures of children, near the entrance to the Bronxville School. When police approached the man, whose car was parked on Pondfield Road, they found "some photos of students, female students, walking up Pondfield Road and some video of students outside of the Bronxville school district getting off the school bus."

That video was taken in Carmel, Putnam County. Police say the man-- who is in his sixties-- works for a company doing architectural construction work at the school. And although they determined that his job does involve photographing construction work, police point out his work does not involve photographing young girls.

Although what he did isn't a criminal act, police are alerting parents in the village. Lindsay Farrington, who lives in Scarsdale but babysits children in Bronxville, told us "if I were a parent, I would not want a stranger taking a picture of my child without me knowing, without having consent. Where is the picture going?"

Natasha Flora, a Bronxville resident with a young son, said "I definitely wouldn't want someone taking pictures of my daughter."

Chief Satriale noted that police found three still cameras in the man's car and one video camera. After questioning the man, they "destroyed most of the video and photographs that were deemed not relatable to his employment." Police tell us the man agreed to allow a search of his computer, and no questionable images were found. They also did a background check, and nothing unusual popped up.

School officials aren't taking any chances though. The Assistant Superintendent of Bronxville Schools, Dr. John Kehoe, said they've alerted parents and sent a note about the importance of teaching children about "stranger safety". In addition, Kehoe said "we asked the faculties in all three schools to speak to the issue in their classroom".

Police are not releasing the man's name and at this point, they're not monitoring him. Kehoe told us the Bronxville Schools have asked the construction company to remove the man from the project at the school. Parents we spoke with, and Dr. Kehoe, tell us the man hasn't been seen at the site since Tuesday. Police have notified other departments about the incident. Parents are now on the lookout.

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