Police in Northern California are asking for help identifying a man caught on video driving back and forth past a young girl on the sidewalk.
Surveillance footage shared by Vacaville police on Friday shows a dark-colored Pontiac approaching the girl as she walks through a residential neighborhood near Leisure Town Road and Ulatis Drive, police wrote in a Facebook post.
At first, the girl kept walking and ignored the car, police said. But “as she quickened her pace to get away from the man, he pulled further in front of her and stopped his car in the middle of the street,” police wrote along with the video they shared.
Scared, the girl stayed behind a parked car where the Pontiac driver couldn’t see her as well, video shows. Eventually the man drove away, but soon he drove back from the opposite direction “in another attempt to speak to the girl,” police said.
The girl stayed behind the parked car to use it “as a shield,” then ran off as soon as the man drove away, according to police.
Authorities said the man’s intentions aren’t known, but police asked the community to “help us identify him, or he can contact us so we can talk with him about what happened.”
The surveillance footage had been viewed more than 69,000 times as of Monday afternoon.
“Seeing that really disgusts me and the rest of our neighbors here,” said Robeh Eseed, who lives near where the incident was recorded, KCRA reports. “It was sickening to see something like that happen in our neighborhood that should never happen here and I don’t know why, but hopefully they can catch the person.”
Another neighbor, college senior Shaun Krum, agreed with Eseed, according to the TV station.
“I’ve been walking home from school my whole entire life,” Krum said in an interview with KCRA. “I’ve always felt safe in this neighborhood … You see that and it just makes you scared, you know.”
Police said the video also provides a lesson for parents and kids.
“As we begin spring break in Vacaville we wanted to take a moment to remind parents and youth about some simple safety tips specific to strangers in cars,” police said. “Please watch out for cars that are following you, never approach strangers sitting in cars and NEVER get into a car with a stranger.”
Police said the man was described as about 20 years old with short hair in dreadlocks. Anyone with information in the case should contact Detective Brian Collins at (707) 469-4735.
In response to commenters on Facebook, police wrote that “there is nothing indicating this incident is related to human trafficking” but said they are not ruling anything out.
Police also said they were “extremely proud” of the girl’s ability “to do what she felt was safe.”