Patrols have been increased in an area of Lancashire after a young girl was grabbed while walking on a canal towpath, say police.
The 10-year-old was walking along the path at around 4.30pm on Monday, October 2 in Clayton le Moors between the Hare and Hounds Pub and All Saints Primary School.
Detectives say that the girl was looking at her smartphone when she was grabbed from behind by a man who touched her thigh and pulled at her bag.
A male dog walker is said to have disturbed the offender who then made off.
Police are now trying to track down the dog owner who may have important information.
DI Mark Gillibrand from Hyndburn Police said: “We aren’t entirely sure what the offender’s motive was but that said, we are treating it very seriously. We appreciate that it will cause people some concern and so we have stepped up patrols in the area.
“We need to trace the dog walker described as white, between 30 and 40 years old, with a beard and a green jacket. He was walking a bulldog and may have some important information that could assist with our investigation. If you think this was you, please get in touch.
“We would also like to speak to anyone who may have seen a man acting suspiciously in the area around the time of the incident. Similarly, if you recognise the description of the offender, please make contact with us.”
He is described as white but very tanned, aged between 18 to 20, over 6ft tall with short cropped dark hair, full unkempt short facial hair and a pierced nose. He was wearing a red hooded top, white trainers, sunglasses and a gold ring on one of his hands.
Anyone with information can call us on 01254 353601 or if they fail to get an answer, 101, quoting incident reference 1003 of October 2nd.
Alternatively, independent charity Crimestoppers can be reached on 0800 555111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.