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Appeal after several women sexually assaulted near Harold Wood station

Detectives are appealing for information after several women were sexually assaulted near Harold Wood station. 

Police are looking for a man described as being white and between 16 to 20-years-old. 

All seven offences took place within half a mile of the station between 9pm and midnight. They occurred between Sunday, 9 June and Tuesday, 2 July.

The suspect routinely approached the women, either on a pedal cycle or on foot, and sexually assaulted them over their clothing.  

The first victim was approached by the suspect on a pedal cycle at The Drive, Harold Wood. He exposed himself to her and stopped and stared as she walked away. It happened at around 11.23pm on Sunday, 9 June. 

On the following Tuesday, 11 June, at around 9.30pm, a man assaulted a woman over her clothing after approaching her in Sackville Crescent, Harold Wood, on a pedal cycle. 

20 minutes later he rode past a lone woman at The Ridgeway and again assaulted her over her clothing before smirking and running away towards Gubbins Lane.

Many woman have come forward claiming they were followed from the station. Detectives are trying to determine whether all of them are linked. 

The assaults began again on Tuesday, 25 June at around 9.50pm. The man approached a woman on foot before assaulting her. 

A man grabbed a woman from behind as she was boarding a bus outside the station shortly after midnight, on Thursday, 27 June. 

The suspect appeared to be masturbating inside his trousers after assaulting a victim in Gubbins Lane on Sunday, 30 June, at around 21.35pm. 

The most recent attacked happened on Tuesday, 2 July, at 10.45pm where again a woman was assaulted in Gubbins Lane. The suspect then walked alongside her before running towards Ridgeway. 

“These incidents are clearly concerning and we are conducting numerous enquiries to trace the offender/s,” said Detective Inspector, Edward Wilkinson. 

“Part of this is appealing to the public; there will have been people travelling home from the station at the times of the incidents and I want people to think carefully if they saw any suspicious behaviour at those times.

“I am specifically interested in speaking to the man who stopped to help the victim on Tuesday, 11 June on Sackville Crescent, you could really assist the investigation.

“At this stage we are keeping an open mind but there is a possibility these assaults could be committed by the same person.

“We have officers working to provide support to the victims who have, understandably, been left extremely shaken.”

Anyone with information regarding these incidents is asked to call police on 101 quoting reference: CAD 8441/ 1 June.

Officers have arrested an 18-year-old man in connection with the investigations on Sunday, 9 July. He has since been released on bail to a date in late August pending further enquiries.

The Metropolitan Police have also issued the following safety advice: 

Be prepared and plan your route in advance.
Be aware of your surroundings and do not be distracted by mobile phones or listening to music.
Avoid walking alone where possible and stick to well-lit, busy routes with lots of people.
Keep all valuables hidden and out of sight.
Consider carrying a personal attack alarm.

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