A 22-year-old college student has been arrested in connection with a string of attempted kidnappings of teenage girls in Hayward over the past two months that have alarmed the community, police Chief Diane Urban said Monday.
Urban said Sagar Patel has been charged with three counts of attempted kidnapping to commit robbery for three incidents in Hayward between Feb. 20 and March 27 and also is under investigation for a fourth incident in unincorporated Hayward.
Alameda County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. J.D. Nelson, whose agency is investigating the fourth incident, said it occurred at San Felipe Community Park in unincorporated Hayward on March 23.
Urban said she and other law enforcement officials who worked on the case are "very pleased" to report that Patel was arrested as he was leaving his residence in the 27000 block of Baldwin Street in Hayward at about 10 a.m. last Thursday because the attempted abductions "have been plaguing our community over the past few months."
Urban said police put a high priority on finding the suspect in the case because, "When young women are preyed on while they are on their way to school it tops our book."
Hayward Unified School District Superintendent Stan Dobbs, who joined Urban and other officials at a news conference at the Hayward Police Department this afternoon, said, "Mothers will sleep with ease tonight because their children are at a better place."
Patel, who is a student at California State University, East Bay and is being held in custody without bail, was scheduled to be arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court in Hayward this afternoon.
District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick said the attempted kidnapping charges against Patel are "violent and serious felonies" and he could face a lengthy state prison term if he's convicted.
Urban said the victims' description of the suspect's ethnicity varied but all said he was between 5 feet 6 inches and 6 feet tall and several said he had a body odor as if he had just come from working out.
Patel is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 170 pounds, according to jail records.
Urban said in the first incident on Feb. 20, Patel allegedly grabbed a 14-year-old girl in the 26000 block of Joshua Street as she walked home alone from Tennyson High School. The girl resisted and was able to escape, run home and report the incident to police.
On March 6, a 15-year-old girl in the 24000 block of Whitman Street, also walking home alone from Tennyson High School, was forced into the back seat of the suspect's car but managed to escape and run home, according to Urban.
The suspect told the victim he was going to shoot her if she didn't cooperate, police said.
In the third incident on March 27, a 16-year-old walking from Hayward High School was pushed into the back seat of a car in the 900 block of Fletcher Lane, Urban said.
Patel allegedly brandished a gun but the girl escaped without injury, police said.
"None of the victims were harmed and all were brave in fighting him off, Urban said.
Police began an undercover surveillance operation and on April 10 Inspector John Lage saw a white Chevrolet Cruze and noticed that the car and driver resembled sketches that had been made of the attacker and his suspected vehicle, according to Urban.
Patel was then arrested without incident last Thursday, she said.
When police searched Patel's home and car they recovered a fake gun and a black stocking cap, according to Urban.
Patel has prior arrests for theft and possession of stolen property in Pleasanton, Urban said.
The agencies that helped Hayward police during their investigation were the FBI, the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, the Department of Homeland Security, the Hayward Unified School District and the Alameda County Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement task force.