Parents in Thousand Oaks were dismayed Monday to find out that a flasher has been targeting children at a local park.
Police believe the same man exposed his private parts to children in two separate incidents in the last week, and are worried he could do it again.
"Surprised, upset, a little bit disturbed by the dynamic that someone would be out in a community like this feeling it’d be OK to be flashing, especially children," parent Chris Welch said, describing his reaction to an alert issued asking parents to be hypervigilant while their chlidren are playing.
Parents said that in addition to a warning from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, a neighborhood watch leader sent out an email blast, warning everyone who lives near Russell Park, located adjacent to Westlake Hills Elementary School.
“I think it’s awful, I don’t see why people need to target children in that way,” said parent Lisa Welch.
In both incidents, the man exposed himself to kids between 4 and 6 p.m. One parent said that in addition to the man’s disregard for the well-being of the children, she was shocked at the audacity he showed in such a busy area.
"And especially in a place that’s so public like this with all these houses surrounding it, I’m surprised they would choose this park," Lisa Welch said.
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Detectives said they have searched through the local sexual predator lists as a precaution, and the state’s Megan’s Law website lists about a dozen registered sex offenders in the zip code.
"There’s always concerns on that, we don’t know what’s going on in the suspect’s head," said Deputy Mark Fullerton of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.
Fullerton said the obvious suspect isn’t always the one that has already been caught.
"Best to our knowledge he hasn’t approached the children, he has not touched any children," he said.
Detectives are hoping parents who may see something suspicious will come forward. Few details about the suspect’s appearance have emerged, aside from that he has spiky hair and may be driving a silver car.
"When someone’s in public, you can lawfully take pictures of them, a license plate is one of our best tools," Fullerton urged.
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s department at 805-654-9511 or make an anonymous tip by calling Ventura County Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.