A morning run is supposed to clear your head and get your heart pumping. Instead, nearly half a dozen attacks on runners and joggers along the Saratoga Creek trail that runs along Lawrence Expressway in San Jose are promping police to warn women to kick off their running shoes.
San Jose police say a woman called them saying that on Tuesday around 7:30 a.m., she ran past a man who then jogged to catch up with her. She said the man harassed her -- and it wasn't the first time. The woman says the same man has targeted her before. Police say she didn't report the crimes before but did now because she was tired of being harassed.
Police say the same suspect, described as a 25 to 35-year-old man of thin build and Middle Eastern or Indian decent, has also targeted teenage girls along the trail.
That prompted a warning to parents from nearby Archbishop Mitty High School. In an email one parent shared with NBC Bay Area, Dean of Students Jim Fallis wrote, "Unfortunately this is not the first incident of its kind. Over the past few months, three other incidents have occurred near this trail or on Lawrence Expressway and have been reported to police. In these previous incidents students reported having their legs grabbed or brushed by a strange man."
Nicole Fairley is a teammate of one of the alleged victims. "He came up and grabbed her legs and she started screaming and he ran away," Fairley told NBC Bay Area.
A week ago, a Mitty student was running on the trail before school when a man pulled her down. She escaped with a bump on her head. The school halted all track and cross country training runs along the creek trail after that incident.
"Halfway through the season they told us not to go there anymore," said student Sara Boraston, adding, "It's not safe."
San Jose police and the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department are investigating five incidents in all, dating back to October 2009. Most happened between 7:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., with one incident reported around 3:30 p.m.
Until a suspect is apprehended, police and school administrators are warning women and teenage girls to avoid the trail and to not jog alone or while wearing headphones in both ears.
The San Jose Police Department is asking any victims or others with information to call Detective A. Fregger Sexual Assault Investigation Unit at (408) 277-4102. Persons wishing to remain anonymous may call the Crime Stoppers tip line at (408) 947-STOP (7867).