Parents worried about man prowling at Richmond park 

Moms are mobilizing in the Richmond district against a “scary” man suspected of taking cell phone pictures of children at a playground.

Residents around Mountain Lake Park say the so-called lurker has been seen multiple times snapping photos of boys and girls on park play structures, and they fear the man may attack their children.

The suspect, reportedly a white man wearing sunglasses, does not have children with him when he shows up to the park, but “pretends like he does” and also pretends he “is there to do pull-ups,” according to phone, e-mail and word-of-mouth reports that have circulated among parents, community organizations and police officials in the neighborhood. Those reports also call the man “scary.”

The suspect is rumored to have offered kids candy, said Beth Sutro, whose children, ages 3 and 16 months, frequent the park daily.

“It’s totally unsettling and nerve-wracking,” Sutro said. “It’s what you see in movies or after-school specials.”

Moms have played an integral role in helping police search for the mystery man, who has yet to be identified but might want to think twice about visiting the playground again given all the attention.

“The network of moms in this community has been so vigilant,” Sutro said.

One woman snapped a photo of the suspect using her cell phone, followed him to his car — a silver Chrysler PT Cruiser — and then e-mailed her discoveries to the San Francisco Police Department, according to a newsletter report from Richmond Police Station Capt. Richard Corriea.

“The volume of Internet traffic related to this issue has been significant,” Corriea said in the report.

The investigation has included stakeouts at the park. A search of the SFPD’s sex-offender database “was unproductive,” but the suspect’s photograph has been sent to state authorities, he said.

Last week, Corriea and police officials met with about 40 members of the group Friends of Mountain Lake Park to discuss the situation.

Those who believe they may have spotted the lurker are urged to contact Richmond Police Station at (415) 553-0123.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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