Nixa, Mo. -- Nixa police are on the search for a man who they believe could be trying to lure children into his vehicle. People who live on South Harrison, near Art Hill, first reported the man to police Thursday night.
Brandi Long lives on the South Harrison with her husband and three children. She said a man wearing a Carhart zip-up jacket and dark-colored baseball cap drove up and down the street several times in a Green Ford Explorer or similar SUV Thursday night around 6 o'clock.
"He drove through the neighborhood four times before he stopped. It was the fourth time he stopped," Long said.
She said the man inside the SUV motioned for the children to get inside. That's when the kids ran away and told their parents, prompting the adults to call police.
"They're innocent. They can't defend themselves. They can't do anything about it. My youngest is in a wheel chair, so she can't defend herself at all," Long said.
In recent months Nixa police have investigated several different incidents of adults driving through neighborhoods and approaching children.
"I personally don't see a reason why you should be asking children to come over to your vehicle. I don't think there's any reason for that," said Nixa Police Detective Jason Hartsell.
Hartsell said he wants to talk to the man who was driving that SUV to determine his motives. He said the description of a stranger driving up and down a typically-quiet street, possibly attempting to lure children, has the components of someone who could be planning an abduction.
"The thought of losing one of them is just gut wrenching. I couldn't sleep last night," Long said.
Richard Harrington is one of the neighbors who first spotted the unfamiliar SUV driving up and down the street Thursday night.
"If we see something suspicious, we're going to call the cops. I don't care who you are," he said.
Police described the man they are looking for as a person of interest. They said he is a white male in his 30s with a brown, thin-line beard. They said he was wearing a Carhart jacket, dark baseball cap, and driving a dark-colored SUV.
Police want to hear from anyone who notices anything or anyone unusual in their neighborhood.