Police in the San Fernando Valley are looking into the possibility that there may be two men -- who have together been referred to as the "Valley Predator" -- involved in the recent assaults and attempted kidnappings of young women and girls.
"There’s a possibility that the driver and the passenger are switching seats, are switching roles," said Lt. Tim Torsmey with LAPD.
Just Friday afternoon, as classes were getting out, a man was seen touching himself and exposing himself to students a few blocks from Monroe High School in North Hills. A parent said the man was driving a beige Nissan Altima.
The victim in an earlier incident described her attacker as a passenger in a red compact car. Alternating "Valley Predators" could potentially explain the wide variety of suspect descriptions, police said.
There were two earlier assaults on young girls in the San Fernando Valley this week. In one instance, the man allegedly disrobed before assaulting a teenage girl blocks away from a North Hills high school.
On Tuesday, a man allegedly took off his shirt and used it to cover the car’s license plate, then ran up behind a 17-year-old girl and grabbed her buttocks near the intersection of Haskell Avenue and Plummer Street (map below), police said.
The latest victim said the suspect was a passenger in a red compact car, diverting slightly from his suspected usual modus operandi.
“He usually tries to make some type of verbal contact with them or eye contact with them, and have them look inside his vehicle, where he is performing a lewd act on himself,” Capt. Todd Chamberlain, with LAPD, said during an April 3 interview with NBC4.
On Monday, there was an attempted kidnapping of a 13-year-old in Grenada Hills.
Police have not confirmed if the crimes were related, but are looking into the possibility that they are connected to a man dubbed the “Valley Predator,” believed to be responsible for at least 10 attacks dating back to the January 2011.
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The man’s description varies from victim to victim, who say he is Latino, possibly Asian, about 5 feet 6 inches tall with a moustache.
Mission Division detectives released a sketch earlier this month after an incident near Arleta High School. Devonshire detectives are working on their own composite sketch.
The attacks have happened in several San Fernando Valley communities. The suspect allegedly walks up behind the victim and gropes them, exposes himself or tries to kidnap the young women, usually when they are walking to or from school, Chamberlain said.
LAPD has issued three safety alerts in the same number of weeks for schools in the San Fernando Valley. Police are advising students to walk in groups and never take a ride or walk with a stranger.
If a stranger approaches or attempts to get a child into a vehicle, children should scream and run for help, police said. Adding that parents and students should be clear about pick-up and drop-off times and locations.
Anyone with information on these attacks is urged to call police.