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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia police are searching for a “serial attacker” behind a pattern of several sexual assaults in South Philadelphia. Police say at least nine sexual assaults have occurred in the area since December.
They’re urging women to be on high alert, especially if you are alone in South Philadelphia.
There’s a serial attacker targeting women and police are concerned he will strike again.
The hunt is on for who police are calling a “serial attacker.”
Late in the midnight hour is when he searches for his victims and police say it all starts with a conversation.
“All these incidents occurred between midnight and 6 a.m. They are all women, mostly trying to get inside of their apartments. Most of them, he pulls out a knife and he’s operating a bike,” Philadelphia police captain Mark Burgmann said.
His latest victim was a 30-year-old woman on her way to work on the 1900 block of South Bancroft Street.
Police say around 5 a.m. Friday morning he forced her into a building and raped her.
“He does appear to just be riding around on the bike looking for easy opportunities to assault somebody,” Burgmann said. “On numerous of these jobs, the women appear to be getting out of the cab or an Uber.”
Surveillance cameras were not able to capture a clear picture of the suspect’s face until Friday.
Linda Esposito was home nearby around 5 a.m. during attack on the 1900 block of South Bancroft Street.
“It’s just really said to see something like this in the community, especially being a mom of little girls,” Esposito said.
After police provided details during a press conference on Friday, a ninth victim came forward.
Investigators say around 11:30 p.m. Thursday night, the suspect sexually assaulted and robbed a 33-year-old woman of $50 on the 400 block of Mifflin Street.
She told Special Victims Unit investigators that before the attack, she saw a bearded man riding a bike behind her and that it’s the same person depicted in the video surveillance released by police.
“I’m shocked. I can’t believe it because I’m up and down this street all the time,” Matthew Grant, a neighbor, said. “My mother lives right there on Second and Sigel. My girlfriend lives a couple of blocks up the street, so it’s crazy. I can’t believe it.”
Other locations detectives say the suspect has robbed, sexually assaulted and attempted to sexually assault women were on the 200 block of Fitzwater Street, the 700 block of South Street, the 1300 block of Morris Street and the 600 block of S. 16th Street.
It’s an alarming trend has prompted Esposito to make a change.
“I’m telling the girls to walk and stay with groups and stay with their friends,” Esposito said.
Police say they’re looking into other attacks throughout the city to see if he is connected.
If you think you know who he may be, call police.