An investigation is underway into at least four cases of sexual assault. and, they all seem to be happening at apartment complexes around North Austin.
Police say the man wears a mask when he attacks so they can't make a great description.
As authorities continue to search for this man, they are asking women to be vigilant and aware.
Ashton Pleasant frequently goes for a stroll in her neighborhood.
“I walk to the dog groomer with my friends and we walk back to the apartment together so I'm not out here by myself usually,” Pleasant said.
After news of a string of sexual assaults, she's keeping her eyes wide open.
“I feel more unsafe than anything, but I have two dogs that are very protective of me so I'm not too worried about anybody catching me,” she said.
Police are reporting four attacks spread throughout North Austin.
“The 290 and 183 area, the area of Duval and Floral Park, as well as the Northgate Boulevard area,” Detective Lee Knouse, Austin Police Department, said.
Authorities say the suspect is attacking women in apartment complexes. The attacks are happening in the common areas like parking lots, walkways and stairwells.
“The suspect attacks women from behind, attempts to get the victims on the ground, and either sexually assaults her or attempts to do so. The suspect or suspects covers his face and prevents the victim from being able to see him. The suspect or suspects may or may not be armed,” Knouse said.
That's the big obstacle police have, figuring out who this man or men are. They describe him as White or Hispanic, around 5 feet 9 with an average build.
Until they find him, officers are warning women to be on the lookout, and travel in packs if you do decide to go for a walk.
“If you're out and about and have your hands full, have a plan,” Knouse said.
“Be aware of your surroundings, don't be on your phone and don't have your headphones in. I know that's really hard for some of us,” Pleasant said.
The City of Austin released the following statement regarding sexual assaults occurring in North Austin.
The Austin Police Department’s Sex Crimes Unit is currently investigating several incidents in North Austin where women are being attacked in the common area (parking lot, walkway corridor, and stairwell) of their apartment complexes. The suspect(s) attacks the women from behind, attempts to get the victim on the ground and either sexually assaults her or attempts to. The suspect(s) covers his face to prevent the victim from being able to see him. The suspect(s) may or may not be armed.
The suspect is a described a White or Hispanic male, approximately 5’9”, average build and an English speaker.
The cases remain under investigation by the Austin Police Department’s Sex Crimes Unit. Anyone with information is asked to call the Sex Crimes tip line at 512-974-5230.
Detectives do not have any other information to provide about the incidents at this time, but want to remind the public to be aware of their surroundings.
Basic Safety Tips:
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- If you have your hands full, have a plan in case you are attacked.
- Limit distractions. Keep the volume down on your headphones or use just one earphone in order to hear and be alerted to approaching hazards.
- If attacked in an apartment complex remember other apartments are close by so yell in order for neighbors to hear you.
- Exercise with a friend. In case of an emergency, you can help each other out.
- If you have to exercise solo, let at least one friend or family member know your route, expected return time, and description of your clothing.
- Make sure your cell phone is fully charged.
- Walk in well-lit and populated areas if possible. If not, have a light source handy.
- Carry identification and include name, phone number, and medical information (allergies, medications, medical history) Consider listing an emergency contact number.
- Use discretion when acknowledging strangers.
- If you believe someone is following you, call 911 as you move to a safe place. Stay on the phone until police arrive.
- Report any suspicious persons to 911.