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Chapel Hill Joggers Warned of Cyclist

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CHAPEL HILL — Chapel Hill police are warning women to be alert if they use the town's popular walking or jogging trails.

Since last Thursday, they have received reports of a cyclist who rides up behind women and then gropes them.

The bizarre episodes have occurred along the very popular Bolin Creek Trail, part of the Chapel Hill Greenway.

Police received three reports of groping and fondling last week, and three more over the weekend.

The last report is the most worrisome: the suspect tried to restrain a woman, backing off only after she threw a rock at his head.

That attempt has police concerned that the suspect could become violent.

Bolin Creek Trail is regarded by most residents as an asset to the community, but these gropings have changed things, at least temporarily.

"It is an assault, if you reach up and touch somebody, no matter what it is, if it is something they don't want you to do. And when it escalates to the level of actually trying to control somebody by grabbing them and holding them, then it has gotten worse," says Capt. Tony Oakley of the Chapel Hill Police Department. "We don't know what his intentions are, but we would like to catch him and stop him from doing this."

Police are working on a composite, but they describe the suspect as a Hispanic man, about 5'5" to 5'8", of medium build.

One distinguishing feature is that he rides a bike people perceive as too small for him.

Attacks usually come between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Women are advised to jog in pairs to go on the trail. If wearing a headset, such as a Walkman, police say keep the volume low so you can hear what is going on around you.

Police say the other day when they were on the trail they were able to come right up behind several women, because the volume on the headsets was so loud.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Jim Young, Photographer
Kay Miller, Web Editor

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