Gardner police are investigating a 10-year-old girl’s encounter last week with a stranger who scared her.
The incident happened about 4:30 p.m. Thursday in a subdivision at West 171st Court and South Osage Street on the city’s west side, said Sgt. Steve Benz, a spokesman for the Gardner police.
The girl had walked outside to check the mailbox. When she turned around, she saw a man coming around the side of her home, Benz said.
He stopped beside the house and asked the girl her name. When she didn’t respond, he walked to the other side of the house and looked over the fence into the backyard, Benz said.
The girl ran inside and told an adult about the encounter and reported the man had something shiny in his hand, which she said could have been a knife, Benz said.
After looking over the fence, the man walked up the street to a parked pickup truck and drove away.
The truck was described as a white, older-model, midsize or compact pickup with an extended cab. It had a white camper shell with windows. There was a dent just behind the passenger-side door.
A complete description of the man was not available.
Police are investigating the encounter as a possible crime because the girl feared the man had a weapon.
The girl indicated to police that the man did not try to put his hands on her or tell her to go with him, Benz said.
“Obviously, we would like to locate the man and speak with him and find out the purpose of him being there,” Benz said. “We don’t know his intentions, but we know that he did not make an attempt to forcefully try to remove her.”
Police are checking with the city, the county and utility companies to see if any had workers in the area. Police are also looking for video that might help identify the man.
Benz said the girl’s family had taught her how to react if she encountered a stranger and felt she was in danger.
Her actions to not talk to the man, get somewhere safe and tell an adult about the encounter were the correct steps to take, Benz said.