ASHBURNHAM - Officials are urging residents to be vigilant after numerous reports of a stranger acting suspiciously in one neighborhood.
The first incident occurred at about 12:15 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 23. According to police, a resident of Winchendon Road reported seeing someone behind her house with a flashlight. Officers searched the area for about two hours but were unable to locate the individual.
"This (incident) prompted neighbors to check their surveillance cameras the next day," said Police Chief Chris Conrad. "They discovered that an unidentified male had been walking around their properties for several hours on Tuesday afternoon. But he was not seen by anybody at the time."
The next incident in the same neighborhood occurred at approximately 1:15 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26. That's when an unidentified male was observed by a group of young children walking in the wood line behind their homes. When the individual approached the group, the children ran into their home and alerted their parents. The individual was observed quickly leaving the area through the woods, according to police.
"He was about 25 feet away from the kids," Conrad said.
Ashburnham police responded to the scene and with the help of the Gardner Police Department's K9 Unit, officers tracked the individual's path through the woods to the area around High Street and Lashua Road. The track led back to the Winchendon Road area, and police believe the individual either entered a residence in the area or was picked up by a vehicle.
"We believe it's somebody who is local and from this immediate area because no car has ever been seen," Conrad explained. "It's possible this person ran into his house."
The male individual was not known to the children or families, according to Conrad. The person was described by the witnesses as a male in his 20s with a tall, thin build, and wearing a dark or black sweatshirt and dark or black sweatpants.
"I don't have a hair color (on the individual) because he was wearing a hoodie into a hat," Conrad explained.Police patrols in the area, including marked and unmarked cruisers, will be increased, according to Conrad.
Investigators are asking anyone who might have seen the individual or observed similar behavior in the past to contact police at 978-827-4413 immediately.
"If they see anybody unusual walking around in the area, contact us," Conrad said. "We'd rather get a bunch of false leads than have somebody not call because they think it's not important. We encourage everyone to call if they see somebody that just doesn't look right. We'll check it out, and if it's nothing, it's nothing.
"But it could be a clue."
Conrad said officials were also asking residents in the lower Winchendon Road area to check their home security surveillance footage to see if they might have captured anyone acting suspiciously in the neighborhood.
This article originally appeared on Gardner News: Ashburnham Police puts neighbors on alert; stranger acts suspiciously