Porcelain dolls resembling young girls have been placed in front of their homes in a gated California community
Orange County Sheriff’s Department
07/24/2014 at 07:30 PM EDT
Police have been called in to investigate a curious case after families reported finding porcelain dolls in front of their homes in a gated community in San Clemente, California.
The dolls were found on the porches of eight houses in the Talega development and resemble the young girls who live there, KTLA
"We're examining the dolls in an attempt to identify who may have manufactured [them]," Orange County Sheriff's Department Lt. Jeff Hallock tells PEOPLE. "Are they homemade? Were they purchased at a retailer? Something, some information that will give us the ability to track down who may be responsible for leaving the dolls in front of people's houses."
Hallock says that initially the parents didn't say anything because each thought it was an isolated incident, but once they talked to their neighbors and realized that many of them had received similar dolls, they called the sheriff's department.
He adds that they were particularly concerned because "they felt that the individual porcelain dolls that were left at their house resembled their daughters."
Some of the girls, who are all around the age of 10, go to elementary school together, according to KTLA.
The department released photos of two of the dolls, one wearing a blue dress trimmed with lace and one in a pink dress with white bunny slippers.
"We don't know if it's a prank, we don't know if particular families were specifically motivated or targeted," Hallock tells PEOPLE. "If in fact these dolls were meant to be left at these houses, and the dolls were intended to resemble the young children that live there, there is a concern with that."
Reporting by Gabrielle Olya