POLICE have stepped up patrols around schools across the Northern Rivers after several reports of suspicious characters in cars around drop-off and pick-up time.
Last Tuesday when Brooke Bowen dropped her children off in Pound St at Lismore Public School about 8.50am she said she noticed a man wearing dark glasses and a grey baseball cap watching children from his car.
"I thought it was a bit suspicious; it just didn't look right," she said.
"Then he pulled something out, like what appeared to me to be a camera up to his face, and I thought this is strange.
"I waited for the kids to go in then drove out of Pound St and did a u-turn and came back and that's when I noticed, what appeared to me, to be a towel hanging out of the boot covering his back numberplate."
With a flat mobile phone and her blood beginning to boil, Ms Bowen said she just went on instinct.
"I couldn't get a park, or take a photo, or do anything, so I just confronted him," she said.
"I said: "are you right mate? What the f**k are you doing? You must have been just taking photos of the kids.
"I said: 'you dirty grub, I'm going to the police about you' and he took off."
Frustrated that she didn't have the car's number plate, Ms Bowen chased the man in her car.
"I followed him out of Pound St and up Ballina Rd towards Goonellabah way and he sped off through the traffic and got away.
"I just wanted to get his numberplate because I couldn't see one on the front."
Ms Bowen said she was frightened, not only for her kids, but everybody else's children.
"At the time, I was thinking what if he took someone like young William Tyrell, who went missing six months ago.
"If he pulled over, I would have confronted him and held him until the police came."
Ms Bowen called police and Lismore Public School posted information about what she saw on its Facebook page.
On Friday, parents of students at Ballina's Southern Cross K-12 School received a text message alert warning of suspicious characters in cars near the school.
Ms Bowen described the man as being 40 to 45, white, with a thin build, beard and moustache, wearing dark glasses and a grey baseball cap.
He was driving an older-style silver four-door Mitsubishi sedan.
Anyone with any information on the man or car is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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