GRASS VALLEY, CA - Almost three weeks have gone by since a man attempted to abduct a middle school girl in south Nevada County.
It was on Sept. 13, right after the girl got off a school bus. She told her mother that a man tried to get her into his red pickup truck and was very forceful when she said no.
Fortunately, the girl ran away and the man sped off.
Since then, at least three other attempts have been made in Grass Valley and at least two dozen people have called 911, reporting the suspicious red truck everyone is looking for.
The truck is described as an older model red Chevy, possibly with a lumber rack. Witnesses said the driver is a white man, approximately 40 years old with white or grey hair and a goatee.
The Nevada County Sheriff's Department now has extra patrols saturating school areas and bus routes. Unfortunately, it's like looking for a needle in a haystack.
"It is difficult, like right now there are two red trucks," said Lt. Alicia Milhous, pointing to traffic going the opposite direction. "Once you start looking for something, it seems like you see it everywhere you look."
A News10 crew drove along with Milhous for two hours; they spotted 43 red pickup trucks. More than two dozen 911 calls came in with additional sightings.
"Every time I see one, I wonder if that could be the guy," parent Catharine Dille said.
She said the tension in Grass Valley is getting worse, because schools could just be the beginning.
"Playing in the playground, or other kids walking around, I feel like it could happen anywhere," Dille said.
"I stay pretty close to them," grandfather John Davis said. "I drop my granddaughter off and watch to make sure she goes straight to the classroom."
Progress in the search is being made. Sex offenders with a red truck have been contacted; one by one, law enforcement is eliminating suspects.
Some are critical of the sheriff's department for not doing more when the first attempt was made.
"The first call, there wasn't much information," Sheriff Keith Royal said. "There wasn't enough to go on."
But now, after all the witness reports, deputies have more information. Reports show the suspect is using every tactic available.
"'Help me find my puppy, get in the car, here's some candy,' those are key messages that this is wrong," Royal explained.
"We want children to be aware of their surroundings," Milhous added. "Parents need to talk to their kids and have a game plan in case something bad does happen."
The sheriff's department also said don't second-guess yourself. If you see something suspicious, don't hesitate to call 911.
By Nick Monacelli, email@example.com