SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Police are investigating after a man was spotted multiple times, secretly taking photos of young children throughout the Bay Area.
"He didn't ask permission, he didn't make it known that he was taking pictures," said Jennifer Morejon who saw a stranger who she was acting "sneaky," taking pictures of her 3-year-old son while he was getting his face painted at the San Mateo County Fair on Saturday night. After she saw the man take the photos, she saw him looking at the photos on a small digital camera, "he's smiling and looking at my son's face in this way, where he just looks like he's very pleased with himself."
Morejon then confronted the man, who said he would delete the photos before he disappeared into the crowd. She reported the incident to nearby officers at the fair.
Lt. Todd Mefford with the San Mateo Police Department was at the fair and spoke to the man before escorting him off fair grounds. He says the photos of Morejon's son were deleted, "there were other photos on there, but I don't want to get into exactly what they were." Lt. Mefford said none of the photos concerned him "criminally, " but added, "when your children are out in public, they are subject to being photographed, but still we don't know why the individuals would want to photograph kids and obviously our police minds go in a direction that we want to ensure there's no criminal intent."
"I see nothing wrong with it," said Marilyn Deleon, a face painter at the fair. She saw the confrontation between Marejon and the man. She says she's never spoken to him, but has seen him taking photos at the fair for years. "He just comes around and takes pictures of the entire fair and not just the kids," said Deleon.
Marejon posted her images of the man on a private Mom's Facebook group, and within 20 minutes other moms said they'd also seen the man photographing their kids at the fair and other locations.
"He was looking at this phone and smiling and he said, oh he's really cute, " said a mom who did not want to be identified. She recognized the photos on Facebook and said the same man took a picture of her 2-year-old son while she was shopping at Mollie Stones in Burlingame last week. She says her sons were in the shopping cart and the man took the photo when she turned away for a moment to look at food on a shelf. "I had a really icky feeling about it, but I was trying to make sense of it and I just didn't want to be confrontational," she said. "My heart sank, I felt so sick because I wish that I had said something in the moment but I didn't."
On Sunday evening parents posted on a Facebook group that they had seen the same man at a park in San Francisco's Marina District photographing children.
Lt. Mefford says the man does not have a criminal record, but they are still investigating and would like to hear from anyone who has seen him photographing children.
San Mateo police are asking anyone who may have had contact with the man to call them at (650) 522-7700.
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