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24 March 2010, 14:08 | Updated: 24 March 2010, 14:13
A man forced a woman to drive her car to a secluded lane in Rottingdean and then attempted to strangle her before escaping across fields on Tuesday evening (March 23).
The victim, aged 21, from Peacehaven, had dropped off a friend near the Saltdean Foodstore in Lustrells Vale and was waiting with her engine running when the man jumped into the car and told her to drive off. She says that his attitude was like someone trying to make a getaway.
She drove to Whiteway Lane, a single lane dirt track road, where she tried to run. The man grabbed her and tried to strangle her, before she escaped and ran to a house in Dean Court Road, Rottingdean, where she called police.
The man, who may have run off in the direction of Grand Crescent or Dean Court, is described as white, in his 30s with a black jacket, gloves and a distinctive black hat, which the victim described as like a swimming hat.
Sussex Police are warning lone female drivers to exercise caution when driving alone.
DI Lee Horner said: "It is extremely important that drivers, particularly women who are out driving late at night on their own, are vigilant. Always keep your car doors locked and your windows up at all times, as this will provide an immediate deterrent.
“Incidents like this are rare. This woman was clearly very frightened to be confronted by this man who was extremely violent. He is clearly dangerous and we urgently need to trace him.”
Police would like to speak to anyone who was in the Lustrells Vale between 8pm and 9pm or who may have seen a man fitting the description in the area following the incident. Please contact Sussex Police on 0845 60 70 999 quoting Operation Farland or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.