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PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Police say a bearded man dressed as Santa Claus allegedly tried to lure three children into his vehicle in separate incidents near a Pittsburgh elementary school on the North Side.

Public Safety spokeswoman Alicia George said the attempted lurings were reported at about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday on two streets near Spring Hill Elementary in the city’s Spring Hill neighborhood. George said three students reported that a man wearing a Santa suit tried to get them to get into his car.

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The suspect was described as being in his 40s with a medium build and a beard and driving a white four-door car.

The incidents have left the community shaken.

Joyce Shaner has three daughters. Her 10-year-old daughter, Lindsay, attends Spring Hill Elementary School.

Shaner told KDKA-TV News, “I’m shocked that something like that could happen up here. I mean, to use something so innocent that kids believe in, to lure them in.”

Amy Wadas’ Report:

The school sent a letter home to parents, saying that they received reports from a concerned parent and several students that while three children were walking to school, they were approached by the suspect. The letter said the driver tried to lure the students into his vehicle.

Lindsay Shaner, who’s in the third grade, left little doubt about how she feels.

“I’m scared, and my friends feel scared, and one of my friends was crying cause if they got hurt, I would have been sad,” she said.

Lindsay’s mother says she often talks to her small children about stranger danger.

“I always tell them, never talk to a stranger, never talk to anybody you don’t know,” she said.

Another similar, separate incident was reported later in the day at the Provident Charter School along Troy Hill Road, but police later determined there was no such incident at that location.

Pittsburgh Police and Pittsburgh School Police are investigating.

Anyone with information was asked to call police.

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