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People from a neighborhood where a burglar has struck three times say the police should have warned them before the culprit went from making sexual threats to rape.
“Yeah, I’m a little concerned,” said Michelle Richer, 56, a 30-year resident of the Hollywood neighborhood. “There should have been a warning or something, a phone call. They do it for everything else.”
The assault happened at about 1:30 a.m. Thursday when a man with his face covered by a cloth broke into the back of a home on Plunkett Street, demanded money and raped a woman.
“That’s very scary,” said Kate Calabretta, 39, who lives two streets away from where the rapist struck, and who was unaware of the attack. “It’s important to let people know so they can take extra precautions. It could be something simple like a flyer on the door.”
Detectives think the same suspect is to blame for two previous burglaries in the same area in the past two months, said Officer Christian Lata, a spokesman for the Hollywood Police Department.
Each of those times, the man broke into the homes in the early morning hours and made threats of sexual assault, he said.
All three crimes happened within the same 8-block by 3-block corridor that is bounded by Pembroke Road to Washington Street and between Federal Highway and Dixie Highway.
“We’re taking this real seriously because of the previous incidents. We’re flooding the area with all our assets,” Lata said. “Be vigilant. Be aware of your surroundings. And if you see something call 911.”
When the burglar struck Thursday morning he wore gray sweatpants and gloves and covered his face with a piece of clothing, Lata said. He also wore a blue sweatshirt with the word “RUN” written in capital letters across the front.
The assailant wore a black hooded sweatshirt that zips up the front during the previous break-ins, police said.
He is described as being between 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 10 inches tall with an average build and he may be in his 30s, according to police.
“I’m sure my girlfriend and her sister would have liked to know this,” said Frank Blinkal, who works nights and has lived in the neighborhood for two years. “It would have been nice to find that out from someone other than [a reporter] … I worry about the girls being home alone.”
The neighborhood has its problems, Blinkal said, and that’s why he’s scheduled to move in a couple weeks. “This neighborhood is something that bothers me.”
Fifteen-year resident of the neighborhood Ian Rounds, 45, voiced similar sentiments.
“It’s nothing new in this neighborhood,” he said.
Police, Rounds said, had done a good job in recent years of clearing out the droves of drug dealers and prostitutes that used to frequent the neighborhood.
News of Thursday’s sexual assault just one block away was troubling, he said, adding that it would have been beneficial to alert the public to the prior burglaries.
“What? Are they going to wait for him to do it again?”