The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday February 5th

Police Emphasize Safety in Wake of Attacks

Carrboro police Capt. Joel Booker said officials recently met with residents and staff of Ridgehaven Townhomes and The Village Apartments -- the sites of the two attacks -- to relay information and precautions regarding assaults.

Booker said Carrboro police are working to make sure that students returning from Winter Break, especially those living in the area near the attacks, are aware of the crimes.

"We'd certainly like for returning University students to be aware and be cautious," Booker said.

Carrboro officials are still investigating the two incidents. The first sexual assault happened Dec. 22 at Ridgehaven Townhomes at 101 Rock Haven Road at 10:30 p.m. Reports state that the assailant entered the victim's apartment and assaulted her. There was no sign of forced entry.

The second incident, a rape, occurred Dec. 26 at The Village at 1000 Smith Level Road at 5 a.m. Reports state that the assailant broke into the residence and assaulted the victim. The victim was transported to UNC Hospitals and did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

Assailants in both incidents were described as males between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet tall with muscular builds. But the Carrboro police have not determined whether the two incidents were related.

Booker said the proximity of the crimes, which occurred within one block of one another, suggests a connection. "That is extremely concerning to us."

Booker said he recommends students use the buddy system when walking at night, traveling with at least two or three other people. He said both male and female students should be alert and report suspicious conditions. He also said that those who live alone should make sure that the same lights are on when they return home as when they left and that their residence is secure before entering. "If you see that things are out of place, you don't have to go inside -- just call the police," Booker said.

Matt Ezzell, coordinator of community education for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, said people should trust their instincts and stay aware of their surroundings.

Ezzell said the center has served 97 sexual assault victims between July and December, and only 35 of those cases were reported to police.

He said the risk of attack can be decreased by things as simple as staying near lighted areas and keeping one's head up when walking.

Ezzell also cautioned against leaving drinks unattended in a social situation or accepting drinks from strangers because of the prevalence of drugs such as Rohypnol, commonly known as "date rape drugs."

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