PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence police put out a warning Thursday about a man breaking into homes and assaulting college-age women.
In a briefing Thursday afternoon, Major David Lapatin said they’re searching for a suspect in three separate incidents in the city’s Elmhurst neighborhood.
“Try to stay with friends, keep your phone near you, and be aware of your surroundings at all times,” he said.
According to Lapatin, police were called to Rhode Island Hospital just before 4 a.m. Tuesday for a reported assault. The victim said the suspect broke into her Pembroke Avenue home, got into her bed, sexually assaulted her, hit her, and stole some of her belongings.
Lapatin said police believe the suspect got in through a porch window.
Police released surveillance video, saying it shows the suspect moments after the incident.
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A second incident occurred Thursday morning on Pinehurst Avenue. The suspect allegedly stuck his hand through an open window and groped a woman inside. Lapatin said the woman screamed and scared the suspect off.
A third incident was also reported Thursday morning from Radcliffe Avenue. A female resident told police she woke up in the morning to find one of her windows open. Police allege the same suspect tried to get in through the window but failed.
Lapatin said area colleges and property owners have been put on high alert and asked residents to “use extreme caution.”
“Everybody has to do their part. Everybody,” he said. “All the neighbors, everybody in that community, the colleges, everybody has to do their part. Be vigilant, look around, let us know, call us if they see anyone suspicious.”
In an email to the campus community, Johnson and Wales University reminded students to be alert and aware, lock their windows, walk home with groups whenever possible, and stay in well-lit areas.
Additionally, JWU asked students to report any suspicious activity to Providence or campus police.
Watch: Major David Lapatin’s briefing
Carolyn Cronin, a spokesperson for Providence College, also released a statement saying none of the incidents involved PC students.
“Providence College has received information from Providence Police about the recent assaults in the Elmhurst neighborhood. While none of the individuals who were assaulted in recent days are PC students or members of our college community, any assaults such as these are egregious and they must stop. The College is communicating with all of our students, faculty, staff, and parents about steps they can and should be taking to be vigilant and mindful of their surroundings at all times.”