After a string of recent assaults in the Triangle area, including in Raleigh and Durham, residents like Samantha Morine are being more careful.
"It's a little concerning," Morine said. "I hope it doesn't escalate into something bigger."
Morine lives in the residential area of Copper Leaf Parkway, where Durham Police are on the lookout for a sexual assault suspect accused of touching at least six people inappropriately since March.
"I have not walked alone since, and I definitely won't put both headphones in going forward, but we're kind of sticking together and keeping our eye out for him for sure," Morine said.
The incidents come just days after Raleigh Police investigated a separate assault involving a woman who was on the Greenway near Lake Wheeler Rd. on Saturday. Raleigh Police said the victim's injuries were not serious, however, police in both cases are still investigating.
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Durham Police have not released any more details about the suspect, but said it appears the assaults are becoming more aggressive.
"There's lots of places to cut through around here so it doesn't surprise me that he's kind of weaving in and out," Morine said. "But I'm glad that there's more attention and hopefully they'll get him *
Scott Johnson, who teaches self-defense at Fight Flow Academy in Raleigh, said the first step to protecting yourself in these situations is awareness.
"If you're in a place where you might be vulnerable, don't be absorbed in your phone because then you're not aware of what might be coming at you," Johnson said. "If you're in a place that's isolated, then you're going to be more vulnerable. If you're in a place where there are shops you can walk into, then do that."
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Johnson said calling attention to the situation could delay physical confrontation.
"You're creating space with the person," Johnson said. "You're making noise ... whatever you can to delay whatever's happening, you're creating opportunities for you to get out of the situation."
Carrying tools, such as pepper spray, may be useful, but Johnson warns if you've never used it, you might lose valuable time.
"You want to be realistic immediately in the moment about what's happening," Johnson said. "If you're doing that then you're going to give yourself the opportunity to react properly."