City leaders’ response to latest string of rape cases

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland says he is behind his police force and crime is top on his agenda as the city's new leader.

When WREG tried to get him to comment on the latest string of crime, another series of rapes, the Mayor turned his back on our cameras and walked off.

The Mayor ran on a platform of fighting crime, but his Communications Director Ursula Madden told us he can't comment on every police incident.

Is a possible 'series' of rapes an everyday crime?

Police thought it was serious enough to put out a warning.

"We saw some similarities, some incidents. We wanted to get it out to the public in case there is some information that someone had that we could use," said Interim Police Director Michael Rallings.

Police said these recent cases, like the apartment rapes they finally connected last year, included both robberies and sexual assaults.

"There may be two individuals. We are not sure. We see similarities in one group of crimes. Now we see similarities in the group we put out yesterday," said Deputy Director Mike Ryall.

This time instead of being attacked in their homes, women were assaulted while going to their cars.

In at least one case the female was driven to a secluded area and attacked.

The description of the attacker and the getaway car were similar in five different crimes.

One happened last September while the latest was just two days ago.

"It does seem to be random attacks in different parts of the city. Not any particular locale," said Ryall.

So at a time when many women worry if they are safe anywhere and if police are taking sexual assaults seriously, police released the following statement:

"We are putting it out to you letting the public know. I think that's the big step in any precaution is letting the public know. When you have a hot camera, a hot mic you can get to 600,000 people real fast."

So until the police decide to tell us exactly where "all" the attacks happened and how they are preventing them and getting the rapist behind bars,  your best bet for safety may be policing yourself, and being aware of what's around you.

The suspect police are looking for is 25- to 30-years-old, 6 feet tall with a fade hairstyle.

He was in a red or maroon Toyota Camry with tinted windows.

Call Crime Stoppers at (901) 528-CASH if you have information.

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