BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. -- Blue Springs police officers amped up patrols near bus stops Thursday, after investigators said a stranger tried to follow a teenage girl into her empty house when she got off the school bus.
The reported incident happened Wednesday afternoon to a Grain Valley High School freshman who arrived home around 3:20 p.m. to notice a man in a minivan parked near her driveway.
The bus driver asked the girl if she knew who the vehicle belonged to, then waited until the girl got into her home and closed her door before driving off.
"At that point she noticed that his car was running and kind of parked at an angle to where it was blocking the road but in our driveway," said Dawn Carnahan, the girl's mother. "So we don't know if his intentions were good or bad, doesn't sound like they were good."
Meanwhile, an alert next door neighbor, Christina Carroll, was also watching closely as the man got out of his car and started walking around the yard.
“I had never seen him before,” Carroll told FOX 4 in an exclusive interview Thursday evening. “His van was parked at the end of the driveway and it was kind of backed in. I thought it was odd. Why is he walking around their house? Why is the van running? You know?”
When the man finally knocked on the neighbor’s door and turned the knob trying to get in, Carroll spoke up and said, “Hello.” He said, “Hi,” back before hopping into his van and taking off.
She followed him to the end of the neighborhood and got part of his license plate number, but lost him when he ran a stop sign.
“A million things could’ve happened,” Carroll said of the possibility that she wasn’t watching. “I’ve thought about it a lot. I don’t know. It`s a scary, scary world sometimes.”
In response, police in marked and unmarked cars could be seen roaming the neighborhood Thursday as kids got off their buses.
“We took this very, very seriously,” explained Lt. John Kingsolver with the Blue Springs Police Department. “I brought my plain clothed unit out here today and we're actively on patrol while the kids are being dropped off the buses.”
Parents who live nearby were also keeping a closer eye on their little ones.
“Now as soon as she gets off the bus, I want her to come inside,” said Stephanie Rome of her 7-year-old daughter. “I don't want her to play outside. I don't want her to do anything. I'm just a paranoid mess now.”
Everyone agreed – a heightened awareness is the key to preventing this from happening again and protecting their children.
“Everybody wants to look the other way,” Carroll said of neighborhoods nowadays. “They`re afraid of offending people, as I was at first to even call the cops; but if you’re not afraid to offend people, if you`re not afraid to get in their business, be the nosy neighbor, you could save somebody.”
Police are still investigating. They describe this man as white, in his 40s, about 5'8 with wavy, sandy brown hair. He was wearing a baseball hat and a t-shirt with paint splashes on it and was driving a silver late-model Dodge Caravan or a Chrysler minivan.
If you've seen him, call Blue Springs Police at (816) 228-0150.