Female Joggers Express Concerns With Recent Assaults - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Female Joggers Express Concerns With Recent Assaults

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Area police are searching for a male suspect who reportedly molested several female joggers over the past year. Police say the unwanted gropings all happened at around 8 AM. The victims reported a similar suspect description. He is said to be a white male between 25 and 30 years old, and 5' 8" to 5' 10". They say he has a thin build and goatee, and is usually wearing jeans and a hooded jacket, or hat, with skater type shoes.

Officials from the Moline Police Department say there were likely more incidents than the five that were reported across the area. The reports started in East Moline in 2013. A woman says she was jogging when she was suddenly grabbed from behind. Four months later, a similar situation was reported in Rock Island. It happened in Moline just one month after that, and again this March. The latest incident occurred on April 21, 2014 in East Moline, and police say this one sparked further investigation.

Female runners, like Anika Sitko, are expressing their concerns about running alone outside.

"It is surprising," Sitko said. "It's a little shocking."

She works for the Two Rivers YMCA in Moline, and started running a couple of years ago.

"I'm still new, convincing my body that I'm a runner," she said.

The recent gropings don't sit well with her or fellow female runners.

"Sometimes I run early in the morning, so it's kind of dark out, but it's just scary that that's happening," said Amanda Kelly, a runner.

Sitko says running indoors is a comfortable option, but the assaults are not going to stop her from getting outdoors.

"We have the track and the treadmills, which I take advantage of both," she said. "It's really scary, but I think you also have to be really careful about where you go."

She often runs the same route alone, but brings friends along in unfamiliar territory.

"I have some fantastic girlfriends that are members here at the Y," she said. "We all work out together."

Officials from the Moline Police Department agree that running in a group helps.

"You're not really so much aware of your surroundings with what's coming up from behind you," Det. Scott Williams said.

They also encourage runners to be alert for their own safety, and to help identify the suspect.

"It's not like the guy is trying to hide," Williams said. "So whatever his issue is, we want runners to be aware and call the police if you see him."

Police say they've already gotten several new tips, anticipating even more calls from women who didn't report it before. They ask anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers.

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