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A serial rapist may be on the loose on Chicago’s South Side.
Chicago Police issued a warning to females to stay vigilant and be cautious of their surroundings after four rapes occurred in the city’s Chatham and Greater Grand Crossing neighborhoods over the last seven weeks.
In all four incidents, the female victims were lured to a secluded area and threatened with a weapon before the sexual assaults.
"These incidents have occurred when these female victims are alone and in areas that are dark," Chicago Police Department Lt. Ozzie Valdez said at a Tuesday press conference, according to ABC News. "What we do ask is that everyone be cautious when they are out in that area -- mainly by the 75th Street corridor."
While authorities are not certain the attacks were committed by the same man, they said the description of the suspect and key details of the crimes appeared to be consistent.
All four victims described their attacker as a black male between the ages of 20 and 30, police said. In three of the incidents, the attacker used a firearm to threaten the women. A knife was used in the other rape.
The victims in all four attacks have been described as young women between the ages of 19 and 25 years old. In each incident, the victims were robbed of their cell phones, cash and other personal belongings, local station WLS reports.
The first attack took place around 5 a.m. on July 12 in the 7600 block of South Evans Avenue. A few weeks later, on July 25, a second woman was attacked around 5:30 a.m. in the 7400 block of South Vernon.
The next incident occurred Aug. 6 around midnight near the 7400 block of South King Drive. The most recent rape occurred around 2 p.m. on Friday in the 7700 block of South Langley Avenue.
The suspect, who is described as being between 5’7” and 6’2”, was last seen wearing a white shirt, blue shorts, gym shoes and a Chicago Bulls baseball hat, police said in a video statement.
“I would advise young women to stay in the company of others,” Chicago Police Det. Arleseuia Watson, who is leading the investigation, said Tuesday. “Be mindful of their surroundings and not try to be walking and looking at your cell phones and not paying attention to what’s going on around you. Be aware of where you are and who you’re around.”
Residents in the area say the recent attacks have them on edge.
"You can be walking past him every single day and don't even know it, that's very scary," resident Rose Martin told WLS.
As investigators continue to search for a suspect in the crimes, police officers walked the streets handing out flyers and talking with local residents. They also plan to increase patrols in the area.
The 6th Ward Violence Prevention Team, which is made up of volunteers, also plans to patrol the area to try to get more information about who the attacker could be.
“We’re focused on catching this person. We want to let him know that this will not be tolerated in our ward, or in our city,” the group’s vice president Johnny Brown told Block Club Chicago.
Anyone with information about the attacks is urged to contact authorities.
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