The Turlock Police Department is encouraging women out walking alone in the evening hours to be more aware of their surroundings as they are investigating a series of sexual assaults in the community.
“If you must be outdoors, we ask and encourage that you bring a partner with you,” said Turlock Police spokesperson Officer Mayra Lewis. “If you are walking, keep a cell phone handy, but don’t use it unless the need arises. If you are exercising outdoors, consider going without headphones.
“This assures you that you’re going to be alert of what is happening around you,” continued Lewis.
Lewis said the police department has received multiple reports over the past three to four months of women being sexually assaulted while walking during the evening hours in the northwest and southeast quadrants of the city. At least one attack happened while the victim was out jogging alone.
“It can be anywhere at any time,” said Lewis. “It’s safe to say that anyone can be a victim anywhere, so everyone should be aware.”
It's unknown at this time if any or all of the assaults are related, and the only suspect description given is a man that is approximately 6 feet tall.
“Based on the trauma and what have you of these types of incidents, it’s what the victims can remember at the time and what we’re getting at this point is a male,” said Sergeant Stephen Webb.
The latest reported sexual assault occurred shortly before 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the 2800 block of Alta Vista Street.
Last week, a woman walking home with her young child was attacked by an unknown assailant just a few blocks from the stadium where the annual Turlock Lions’ Club Harvest Bowl game was being played between Pitman and Turlock high schools. The assault happened shortly before 9 p.m. in the area of Rose Street and Sycamore Avenue.
The woman was returning home from the game when she was attacked, according to the Turlock Police Department. She was able to fight off her attacker and both her and the child escaped without incurring any serious injuries.
“This is an active investigation,” said Webb. “We had the two that are recent, but we don’t want to specifically say that at this point that everything is related. These are the ones we are looking at that may have similarities.”
In collaboration with University Police Department, the Turlock Police Department will host a two-day rape aggression defense class on Dec. 5 and Dec. 12. Anyone interested in the course is encouraged to contact Crime Prevention Officer Michelle Backeroff at 668-5550, ext. 6353.
“This class is designed to empower women and develop and enhance their options of self defense so that they may become viable considerations for a woman who is attacked,” said Lewis.
There will also be a public meeting to answer any questions or concerns that the community might have regarding these incidents at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Turlock Public Safety Facility, 244 N. Broadway Ave.
The Turlock Police Department continues to actively work on this investigation and is asking for the community’s assistance. Lewis said that anyone who has information regarding these incidents is encouraged to notify Detective Frank Navarro at 668-5550, ext. 6619.