WITH AN APPARENT serial rapist attacking women in the Glen Burnie area, the Anne Arundel County Police Department has stepped up patrols and issued warnings to women living in large apartment complexes. Police have also mounted a
publicity campaign informing women that an armed rapist is at large and to take precautions.
Obviously, the police want to catch this person before he chooses to attack again, but they can't be everywhere. This man seems to be carrying out his assaults in Glen Burnie and Northern Virginia. He also seems to attack during the day. Four of the six assaults occurred in laundry rooms. In the other two cases, he forced his way into apartments.
If police are lucky, this man will do something stupid and will be arrested and identified by one or more of the victims. If police get a tip, they might be able to identify him through arrest or prison records. But police know that they can't sit around and wait for these breaks.
The department released a list of nine tips that women should follow as long as this predator is at large. Most of them are common sense -- never use a laundry room or community room alone, and have keys handy to open car and apartment doors as quickly as possible, for example.
But two of the pieces of advice are contradictory when considered together.
One is not to open the door to anyone "you don't know or aren't expecting." There is nothing inherently wrong with that admonition. However, it looks foolish when police also advise that a person who thinks she is being followed should "knock on a door for help."
Anyone who follows the first piece of advice is not going to open the door for a strange woman. However, women who feel they are being followed need to know that there are havens where they can find safety.
In these large apartment complexes, most residents are strangers to each other. Management companies might develop system so that people living in the same building might get to know one another more easily.
Perhaps with the publicity, the job of catching this predator will be made easier. In the meantime, police and the public must be more vigilant until this criminal is caught.
Pub Date: 12/10/97