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Detectives investigating two sexual offences in the Bournemouth area say they now have evidence that both cases are linked.
Between January and June of this year, police have had reports of seven similar offences in the Alum Chine and town centre areas.
They say forensic evidence has confirmed that the same offender is responsible for at least two of these crimes.
Safer Neighbourhood Teams have been issuing advice to members of the public and additional patrols have been active in the communities where the attacks have been reported.
Detective Inspector Steve Thorpe, of Bournemouth CID, said:
“Dorset Police treats all reports of sexual offences with the utmost concern and a dedicated team of specially trained officers – within Bournemouth CID – have been investigating these distressing incidents.
“Following extensive enquiries, we can now confirm that an indecent exposure offence in January and a sexual assault in late May are connected.
"It may be that this man is also involved in other reported crimes.
"We are keeping an open mind, however it must be stressed that there is currently no clear indication any further offences are linked.
“We have previously issued details regarding several of these offences, as well as publishing an e-fit, and I am renewing our appeal for information.”
The first incident took place at around 6.20pm on Thursday, 20 January 2011. Police received a report that a man had indecently exposed himself to a member of the public along Rosemount Road in the Alum Chine area.
At around 2.45am on Sunday, 22 May 2011, the same offender grabbed a 19-year-old woman from behind and dragged her into a driveway at the Richmond Hill end of Wimborne Road, before sexually assaulting her.
The victim, from Bournemouth, sustained scratches to her face and neck.
The offender in both cases is aged in his early to mid-twenties, of a slim build, with a dark skin complexion and short dark curly hair.
At the time of the first incident, he was wearing a grey T-shirt. The T-shirt had a gold arrow piercing through a large red shiny heart printed on the front.
His belt had a distinct silver skull and crossbones buckle. He was also wearing a silver chain with a silver cross attached and distinctive diamond-studded earrings in both ears.
An e-fit of this man has been issued by police, along with a drawings of the T-shirt.
DI Thorpe continued:
“I am appealing for anyone who recognises this man, and anyone with any information about these two incidents, to contact me as soon as possible.
“I would also like to remind residents and visitors – as we do throughout the year – to be conscious of their own personal safety.
“It is essential that everyone takes a common sense approach and trusts their instincts – if you don’t feel comfortable in a particular area, then take another route.
“All year round and all over the country, there are many things that people can do to ensure that they are safe, such as walking with friends, carrying a mobile phone and letting people know where you are.
“There are also numerous ways to find additional advice, such as speaking with Safer Neighbourhood Team officers and accessing websites such as the Dorset Police homepage and the Suzy Lamplugh site.”
Other incidents that may be linked include four reports of a man indecently exposing himself. These took place along Norwich Avenue at around 3.30am on Friday, 4 February; in Bournemouth Gardens at around 3.40am on Sunday, 6 February; along Norwich Avenue West at around 3am on Sunday, 17 April; and along St Michael’s Road at around 4am on Sunday, 5 June 2011.
An assault, in which a woman was pushed to the ground along St Michael’s Road at around 3.20am on Saturday, 5 February 2011, may also be connected. The victim, a 17-year-old Bournemouth girl, sustained a cut to her head.
DI Thorpe added:
“Anyone with any information about any of these very upsetting incidents should not hesitate to call police urgently.”
Witnesses and anyone with information should call Dorset Police in confidence on 01202 22 22 22 quoting incident number 20:421. Alternatively, call the free and anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111.