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Recent attacks may be linked 

San Luis Obispo Police hunt for what could be an aggressive rapist

Police are still searching for the man who's suspected to be responsible for two attempted sexual assaults that took place on Nov. 10 near Cal Poly and also possibly a bold rape committed on Dec. 10 in downtown San Luis Obispo. The assaults have all occurred in open areas of residential neighborhoods between 10 p.m. and 12:30 a.m.

The victims have provided fairly consistent descriptions of their attacker's actions and appearance, said SLO Police Lt. Steve Tolley.

"We haven't confirmed the link," Tolley noted in reference to the assaults and the rape.

He explained that the three victims' descriptions of their respective assailants vary a little in terms of age, height, and weight, "but not enough to say it was a different person."

Even though sexual offenses are fairly common in San Luis Obispo there were seven logged into the city police blotter between Dec. 5 and Dec. 10 stranger assaults are unusual, Tolley said. Sexual offenses include stranger rapes, acquaintance rapes, and molestations.

The first reported attack occurred on Nov. 10 at approximately 10:15 p.m., according to a statement from the police department, which reported that a young woman was walking to a friend's house when the suspect placed her in a headlock from behind. She screamed and fought him off, the report stated, and he ran from the area.

Approximately two hours later, a woman walking her dog was assaulted. According to the police, she also screamed and successfully fought off the suspect. Again, he ran away.

On Dec. 10, not long after midnight, a man attacked a woman shortly after she got out of her car. He raped her not far from her vehicle, out in the open, in the pouring rain, near the intersection of Pismo and Morro streets, Tolley said. The victim received minor injuries.

"It seems like the suspect is getting more and more aggressive with each attack, which isn't good," Tolley added. "One victim provided a really good description. If she sees a picture, I feel confident she can identify him."

Each of the victims described her attacker as a white male, 20 to 25 years old, approximately 5-feet-8-inches to 6-feet tall, with a thin build. He has brown eyes and short, dark brown hair, a thin face with rounded features, smooth skin, bushy eyebrows, and a large nose.

The victims have all been women in their early 20s, however police said there are no other physical characteristics that would tie them together.

"All the women saw or sensed he was there," Tolley said. "He follows them for a short time. If he has to make conversation, he will. He actually had a short conversation before attacking two of the victims. Then he attacks them from behind."

Tolley said patrols have been stepped up, and officers have been provided with specific information to assist their search.

"We are checking and interviewing known sex offenders in the area," Tolley added. "Cal Poly is helping they have provided folks to help patrol the areas where the attacks are happening."

Police are asking anyone with information to call the San Luis Obispo Police Department at 781-7317 or Crime Stoppers at 549-7867.

"There may more be more unreported rapes," Tolley added. "We know about three, but if there are more victims out there, they could help us solve these crimes."

INFOBOX: Don't become a victim

New Times compiled the following safety tips from a variety of sources:

Do not walk alone at night or take shortcuts in deserted areas.

Always be alert to your surroundings.

Walk at a steady, confident pace. Attackers usually seek out victims who look dazed or distracted.

If approached, scream and attempt to run away.

Always have your car and house keys at hand. Fumbling in your purse for your keys provides assailants an opportunity to attack.

Keep bushes and shrubs, where an attacker might hide, trimmed.

Always walk near the curb and avoid places an attacker might hide, such as doorways and bushes.

Park in well-lighted areas and lock the doors.

If you suspect you are being followed, walk quickly to a heavily populated area.

Avoid filling your arms with shopping bags or packages.

Always walk against traffic. A person walking with traffic is easier to follow in a car.

Trust your instincts. If a specific person or location makes you uneasy, take another route.

Keep your car in good working condition and your tank half full.

If attacked, scream, blow a whistle, or yell for help.

INFOBOX: Key facts

The following statistics are from the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network:

Approximately 80 percent of rape victims are younger than 30.

Fifty-nine percent of rapes are never reported.

In 2004-2005 in the United States, there were approximately 64,080 victims of completed rape and 51,500 victims of attempted rape.

In 70 percent of rapes, the victim is a friend, relative, or acquaintance of the attacker.

One in six American women and one in 33 American men will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime.

Since 1993, incidents of sexual assault have fallen by more than 69 percent.

Staff Writer Karen Velie can be reached at [email protected]. Intern Kylie Mendonca contributed to this story.

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