A man accused of groping two girls inside a Wal-Mart and then, a few minutes later, a Target store in the East Bay has been arrested, police said.
Investigators are crediting an alert off-duty community service officer, who works with the Berkeley police force, for leading them to the arrest, police said at a Thursday press conference.
Police are not yet releasing the name of the man, but said he is a 20-year-old man who just moved to San Leandro six months ago from Southern California. He faces at least two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior on a child under 14.
The man seen in surveillance images released by police on Wednesday is suspected of touching a girl inside the Wal-Mart on Hesperian Boulevard about 7:45 Monday night. Police say, when the girl screamed, the suspect quickly exited the store. The girl’s mother notified store security, who notified police.
Fifteen minutes later, police responded to investigate a report of another, similar incident at the Target store at the Bayfair Center mall. Another young girl, also with her mother nearby, was approached by the same man, who inappropriately touched her, police said.
As in the Wal-Mart incident, police said the man quickly fled the Target store when confronted by the girl’s mother.
The surveillance images of the man were captured by a Target security video as he left the store, police said.
The community service officer was getting coffee at 7-Eleven near the Target and recognized the suspect’s outfit. Police say she took pictures of the man and his car. It was the license plate that led detectives to a parking garage on the Peninsula, where employees were wearing uniforms.
Officers said the suspect has a criminal record, unrelated to child molestation. Police are contacting law enforcement agencies in Southern California to see if they can find out more about the suspect.