PARENTS' fears about a potential child abductor have been rekindled a year after a series of attempts to snatch youngsters from a North-East town.

Police are warning parents to be extra vigilant after a man tried to snatch a child, a year after similar abduction attempts in the same area.

The latest incident took place at 3.50pm yesterday when a 10-year-old boy from Loftus, East Cleveland, was walking home from a friend's house in the West Road area.

A man grabbed the boy and tried to hold on to him by his arm but he broke free and ran off.

Although the man ran after him, the boy managed to get away.

The man got into a vehicle thought to be a white van, which then drove off in the direction of Loftus Bank.

The incident comes just over a year since a series of attempted child snatches throughout the East Cleveland and North Yorkshire areas.

Between October and November last year, the man - who in each case was driving a red car, possibly a Ford Escort - tried to take children from Lazenby, near Redcar, the East Cleveland villages of Brotton and Skelton, Nunthorpe, on the edge of Middlesbrough, and Whitby in North Yorkshire.

The eight cases in a five-week period prompted a massive search but the man responsible was never found and there were no further attempts until this week.

At the time, the man was described as "extremely dangerous" by Cleveland Police but last night, a spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said the force was "keeping an open mind" as to whether it was the same man who was behind this latest worrying attempt.

The man is described as about five feet eight inches tall, wearing a black jumper and grey trousers.

Last year, DC Paul Brown advised parents and youngsters not to panic but to be extra vigilant. He said youngsters should walk in groups or be picked up by their parents.

Anyone who witnessed the incident or saw the vehicle parked in the area is asked to call PC Bill Macgregor on (01287) 633531.

Updated : 14:30, 20/12/01