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Women targeted on Fairfax paths and trails

Wednesday - 4/18/2012, 3:34pm  ET

Alicia Lozano, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Women could become targets as the weather heats up and people flock to the trails, Fairfax County police warn.

Tuesday afternoon, officials say a woman was jogging near Sully Park and Truitt Farm Drive when a man whistled in her direction. She turned around and saw the man expose himself while masturbating. She yelled and saw him run down a path.

The suspect is between 5 feet, 3 inches and 5 feet, 7 inches tall with "olive-skinned with a protruding gut," according to a news release.

On Saturday, a 27-year-old woman was grabbed while power walking near Danbury Forest Drive. The suspect fled the trail after the victim screamed.

He is described as Hispanic, between 5 feet, 6 inches and 5 feet, 9 inches tall and around 150 to 170 pounds. He was professionally dressed with a white buttoned shirt, dark vest, black slacks and black shoes, police say.

Officials believe there could be a connection between the recent incidents and a string of indecent exposures in the Fairfax area over the past year.

There were nine such cases near Cub Run Stream Valley Park over the past year year. Between March 1, 2011 and March 14, 2012, women reported being harassed by suspects who fit a similar description. Sometimes the man covered his face, and most of the incidents happened near wooded areas.

In response, Fairfax police plan to add additional patrols and will assign more officers on bikes, Lucy Caldwell, public information officer, says.

Despite the added security, Caldwell warns that women should be extra careful on park paths and trails. She suggests bringing a friend along, avoiding headphones when alone and pre-programming 911 onto mobile phones.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)