A 9-year-old girl playing outside her New Jersey home was grabbed by a man who allegedly tried to lure her with candy before she screamed for help, scaring him off, police said.
The girl was playing near a set of mailboxes at her townhouse complex off Franklin Turnpike in Mahwah, near Suffern, New York, border, with her sister and a friend at about 7:30 p.m., according to Mahwah police.
The two other girls left the location, and the girl returned to her home for a few minutes, police said. When she walked back out, she saw a dark four-door Mitsubishi sedan with blue license plates parked near where she had been playing with the other girls.
The driver, described as a man in his late 30s with a scar on the side of his face and a gold or silver tooth in the front of his mouth, asked the girl if she wanted some candy, police said.
When she said no, the man allegedly reached out and grabbed her right arm. The girl was able to pull away and yelled for her sister as she ran away, according to police.
Responding officers saw a red mark on the girl's right arm consistent with someone grabbing her near her wrist, according to police.
Officers canvassed the area and worked with Rockland County authorities through the night but were unable to find the suspect or his vehicle. One neighbor told police she thought she heard a girl screaming, and other residents said they thought they'd seen the suspicious vehicle, possibly a Galant model from the 1998 to 2003 years.
Police officers have increased their presence at bus stops and at all schools in the Mahwah district and neighborhoods, schools superintendent C. Lauren Schoen told parents in a letter Wednesday. The police sketch of the suspect has also been shared with all school administrators and bus drivers.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Mahwah police at 201-529-1000.