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Recent robbery, sexual assault worry holiday shoppers

Posted December 14, 2014
Updated December 15, 2014

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— After two women were robbed outside a Durham mall on Thursday, followed by a woman who was sexually assaulted after she was taken from a Fayetteville shopping center on Friday, Kristen Christie is not taking any chances with her safety.

Christie believes she may have had a near encounter with trouble recently.

“I was walking to my car. It was daylight and a guy just started yelling ‘ma’am’ from across the parking lot,” she said.

The man eventually moved too close for her comfort.

“I just told him I had pepper spray and I said, ‘If you come any closer to me, I will spray you,’” she said.

The man’s intentions may have been harmless, Christie said, but she would not have done anything differently.

“Better to be safe than sorry,” she said. “Most of the time your gut feeling is the correct feeling.”

Christie’s heightened concern comes after two recent crimes in which female shoppers were targeted.

Two women, ages 55 and 71, were getting into their car at Northgate Mall on Thursday when two men tried to steal their purses. Police said the men knocked both women to the ground and punched the younger woman in the face during a struggle. They took one purse, which contained cash, credit cards and a phone.

“I was with an elderly family member (so) they thought we were easy targets,” said the younger victim, who asked not to be identified.

On Friday, a woman was walking in the parking lot of the Eutaw Village Shopping Center when she was approached by two men. According to police, one of the men had a gun and forced her into a vehicle.

The suspects drove the victim to an unknown location and sexually assaulted her, police said. The men robbed the victim of her personal property and fled the area.

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office released two composite sketches of the suspects from the sexual assault Sunday night. Both are described as black and between the ages of 22 and 26. One is 6 feet tall, weighs about 180 pounds and has a light complexion. The other has a darker complexion, is 5 feet 7 to 5 feet 9 inches tall with a stocky build and weighs about 300 pounds.

The men are believed to be driving a silver, newer model Nissan Altima, authorities said.

The sheriff’s office said the two men are connected to another weekend robbery and sexual assault that occurred outside Fayetteville, but investigators did not provide information on the second incident.

The recent cases worry Brandis Kackos, who is concerned for herself and her three daughters.

“We live out here, we shop out here, we spend time around here, and then it makes you worry to be out someplace by yourself,” she said. “I always try to park in lighted areas or as close to the door as I can or be aware of who's around me when I am walking out to my car.”


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  • ytb781pearl Dec 16, 2014

    Odd the article offers no tips on parking lot safety.

  • itsnotmeiswear Dec 15, 2014

    I've been approached two different times at Northgate over the last 6 years by two young men that I believed did not have my best interest in mind because they were trying to get an angle on me in the parking deck. I turned to face them, reached in back of my pants for my legal carry weapon without drawing it, and advised them to make another choice. Both times they turned around and quickly went the other way. It was broad daylight, and nothing about me screams easy target. That being said, I don't think Northgate is any different than any mall in the area. You always need to be wary and ready to protect yourself if necessary.

  • Scott Weaver Dec 15, 2014
    user avatar

    people need to arm themselves

  • meep Dec 15, 2014

    View quoted thread

    So you don't want sexual predators operating in the are to be reported? Only victims that know their attacker matter?

  • smdrn Dec 15, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Articles like this are meant to bring awareness...not fear. Only you can control how you react to information. A crime can happen anywhere at any time. You should always be vigilant and aware of your surroundings, especially when you are by yourself. Certain times of the year can bring out the worst in people.

    Becoming complacent doesn't mean that one deserves to become a victim, but putting one's self in a precarious situation without a safety plan is foolhardy.

  • Lee Bennett Dec 15, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Literally nothing in this post is even close to being true.

  • Obama-in-2016 Dec 15, 2014

    Will the protesters be protesting for the freedom of these innocent young men?

  • moomoo Dec 15, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Wow--would like to know what is the definition of "too close".

  • Mike Wells Dec 15, 2014
    user avatar

    Articles like this help spread the non-facts that have sparked the protest across the country. The media outlets can be blamed for not reporting the correct information.

  • Ginger Lynn Dec 15, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    I have lived in Durham since 1972 and shopped at Northgate since it opened. 1. It is NOT anywhere close to Geer st. It is close to I85. and
    2. There have never been any incidents of "slashings". Once every couple of years someone has their purse grabbed. Which can be said almost everywhere.