A MASKED man tried to persuade a boy to get in to his van, in the third incident where strangers have approached schoolchildren.
The balaclava-wearing driver got out of his vehicle near The Mallard pub in Stockton Road, Seaham, and asked if the 11-year-old wanted a lift home before moving towards the lad.
The youngster pushed his bicycle towards the stranger and ran off.
When he heard the beeping of the white panel van reversing and saw it drive off, he went back to pick up his bike, rode home and raised the alarm.
The incident, between 7.45pm and 8.10pm on Friday, is the third time men have invited youngsters to get in their vehicles in the East Durham town in recent weeks.
Detective Constable Claire Hepburn, of Seaham CID, said: “The details of each of these incidents are different, but we are keeping an open mind.
“We are appealing for anyone who has seen anyone acting suspiciously in this area to contact us, or know any information about other suspicious and similar incidents.
“We are very concerned about what has happened and want to get to the bottom of what has gone on.”
The man involved in the approach was 6ft tall and thin, wore a black balaclava, gloves, hoodie, jeans and boots, and spoke with a Scottish accent.
His van had a long wheelbase and a teddy bear attached to its front grill.
The incident follows two other approaches.
At 7pm on August 31, girls aged 13 and 14 were outside Parkside Community Centre when men in a white Renault Megane Sport shouted over and asked them to “get in the back”.
They drove off when one of the girls screamed.
At 9.15pm the same night, a 12-year-old girl was approached by a man in a small black car on Northlea Road, near the junction with Durham Street, was asked if she was 13 and told to “come here,” but ignored the request.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Durham Police on 0345 606 0365, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.