Local News

Recent robbery, sexual assault worry holiday shoppers

Posted December 14, 2014 10:30 p.m. EST
Updated December 15, 2014 5:33 a.m. EST

— 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.”