BELFAST, Maine — Police in Belfast are seeking a man they believe tried to lure two boys away from the Belfast City Park swimming pool last week.
The man, said to be athletic, in his mid- to late 40s and wearing Spandex swim trunks, did draw one boy “a substantial distance” away from the pool when the boy’s teenage baby sitter saw what was happening and ran to get the child, according to Police Chief Mike McFadden. The incident happened about 10:30 a.m. Thursday during children’s swimming lessons.
“He asked when lap swim would be and started striking up a conversation with a couple of young boys,” McFadden said Monday. “He was able to entice one of the boys away, until the baby sitter noticed. Obviously, this is of great concern to us.”
About an hour after the incident, the baby sitter told the boy’s grandfather what had happened, and the grandfather took them both to the police station to make a report. McFadden said the man apparently returned to the pool later and started to talk to another male child.
“He wanted the other child to come to the playground with him. He didn’t have any luck getting that child out of the pool area, and shortly after that, he left,” the chief said.
There are no security cameras around the pool. The baby sitter did take several photographs of the man with the mobile phone application Snapchat, which makes photos disappear after a short period of time.
Belfast police contacted the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit to see about finding the Snapchat photographs. The images eventually were recovered from the girl’s phone by Detective Brent Beaulieu of the Bangor Police Department.
McFadden described the man as having graying hair, about 6 feet tall, pronounced cheekbones and a protruding chin. He reportedly mentioned to pool staff that he might go for a run, and he was wearing a shirt with a firefighter or ambulance service emblem with florescent green stripes.
McFadden said that the man is not facing any charges at this point and he is wanted only for questioning. However, the police chief said he is suspicious about the man’s motives.
“I can’t think of a justified reason you’d take another person’s child for a walk without permission,” he said. “We have to take precautions. We’re doing everything we can to make sure the park and the environment are safe.”
Norm Poirier, Belfast’s parks and recreation director, said Monday at the Belfast City Park pool that he believes this incident is an opportunity for parents to educate their children about how to be careful around strangers.
“It’s just a matter of community awareness,” Poirier said, adding that he does not believe the pool or park are not safe. “I think it’s a wonderful place to bring children and families.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story said the incident occurred Wednesday. It occurred Thursday.