A 12-year-old was left “petrified” after reportedly being approached and chased by a man on a Watford path.

His family have warned others to keep their children close after the “horrible situation” during a family cycle ride in the Ebury Way on Friday (August 4).

The boy had been cycling ahead of his family when a middle-aged man called out to him at around 3.30pm.

According to the boy, he slowed his bike after the man said “excuse me” because he thought he might have dropped something.

Instead, the man continued “I think your mum was looking for you, follow me” and, when the boy refused and cycled off, he began to chase after him.

The 12-year-old had been cycling with his dad, younger brother, six, and cousin, 13, and had rode ahead while the others stopped to help his brother with a bug in his eye.

His father had then sent the 13-year-old on to catch up and expected the boys to stop, but did not see his son again until he got home.

“As we finally approached the house, I was met by my sister who looked panicked saying someone tried to take my son,” the 40-year-old said.

“He said that he was too scared and didn’t look back once after he shot off and saw the guy running after him, and just wanted to get home as soon as he could.

“This was at 3.30pm during the day. We are horrified.”

The boy’s aunt shared a message on social media warning other parents about what happened and reminding them to be careful.

She said: “My nephew explained what happened and got quite upset, which upset us all.

“We were shocked and couldn’t believe that this had happened in broad daylight, in a place that dog walkers, cyclists, and all types of people often go through.

“What happened to my nephew was a terrifying experience for him and our family, and we are all so relieved that it didn’t end in tragedy, thanks to my nephew’s instinct and swift action to escape.”

The incident was reported to Herts Police, who have been contacted for comment.