SIMI VALLEY – Police in eastern Ventura County have warned recently of reports from children who said they were approached by strangers at their schools or near home – but in one instance, it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity. The Simi Valley Police Department issued a composite drawing of a purported suspect who approached a 10-year-old girl, but it turned out the man was not attempting to abduct her after all. Still, officials said that with the school year starting, children must be aware of strangers who approach them at school or home. In Thousand Oaks, deputies said they have had several calls recently regarding children who were approached by a “suspicious subject” at elementary and middle schools and at an apartment complex, where a strange man asked a little girl to help him. Detective David Del Marto praised the girl for refusing to go with the man and reporting the incident to authorities. Even though it turned out to be a mistake, “the possibility is always there,” Del Marto said. Detectives tracked down the man in the drawing, who came back to the school Thursday to pick up another girl, and learned that the girl’s mother actually had sent the suspect to the school. The two girls had similar names, police said in a statement released Friday. They said it was not an abduction attempt after all, but “a miscommunication between school staff and the male suspect.” Del Marto said police must take such reports seriously because of the potential danger. Sgt. Stephanie Shannon of the Simi Valley Police Department said it is not a good idea for parents to have stickers on their cars with their children’s names because a predator could use the information against the child. “We encourage parents to communicate with their kids about stranger danger,” she said. “They should help their kids learn how to be very careful about their surroundings.” [email protected] (805) 583-7602160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe joys and headaches of holiday travel: John Phillips “We’re actively investigating this, and I would hope that children and their parents continue to be aware of their surroundings,” said Sgt. Barbara Payton of the Thousand Oaks Police Department. Payton said children who were approached by strangers in Thousand Oaks gave varying descriptions of the men. She said with children starting back to school it is critical that they stay away from strangers who confront them and go immediately to a safe location. On Wednesday, Simi Valley police released a composite drawing of a man who approached a 10-year-old girl at Berylwood Elementary School on Aug.31. The man called her by her first and last name and said her mother told him to pick her up in his car.