Calgary police say investigators don’t yet know if 15 incidents of women being groped while walking alone involved the same suspect, or if multiple people are responsible.
Police said the gropings started in November, and have happened in areas of north-central and downtown Calgary, including Mission, Thorncliffe, Huntington Hills and Hillhurst, both during the day and at night.
The women who were assaulted reported they were approached from behind by a man, “and grabbed in a sexual manner,” police said Thursday.
“In some of the incidents, the assailant appeared to look for opportunities in which the victims were distracted, either by a device, or during moments when their situational awareness was lowered, such as looking in a bag,” CPS said.
The suspect runs away quickly after groping the women, police said.
“Under the Criminal Code of Canada, groping is classified as a sexual assault and upon conviction, can be subject to jail time.”
There were no suspect descriptions available on Thursday, as investigators have received varying descriptions of the assailants, however, “the method of the attacks are similar in nature.”
Police are asking for increased awareness, as well as for any women who are assaulted to contact police immediately, if possible, so officers can get to the area as soon as possible to try to find the suspect.
If they can’t call 911 right away, they’re asked to contact the non-emergency line at 403-266-1234.
Police offered the following safety tips in light of the incidents:
- Walk with others, or in well-populated areas
- Stay in well-lit areas with clear visibility
- Be aware of your surroundings – limit the use of devices that would prohibit your awareness
- Limit the number of belongings that you are carrying in your arms to reduce your vulnerability
- If you are attacked:
- Create noise to attract attention
- Do not try to keep hold of your possessions or valuables
- Pay attention to physical attributes of your attacker and what they are wearing
- Call 911 immediately