“We shouldn’t have to be afraid.”
That message from women in Burnaby who attended an RCMP-hosted personal safety session tonight (March 30) in the wake of five sexual assaults which have occurred in that community since late January.
22-year-old SFU student Heather Dunbar says she feels her freedom is being restricted out of fear a serial sexual predator is on the loose.
“I’m told not to take the bus home at night, but what if I want to, you know? And that is really frustrating that I can’t go about my life the way that I want to because somebody may attack me.”
Runner Catherine Ford and her friends say they’re angry their safety could be in jeopardy if they’re alone.
“I should be able to go for a run in Burnaby Lake, Terry should be able to walk to work here. She shouldn’t have to be afraid, and we have been taught to be afraid since we were young young girls.”
Safety tips for people walking alone
Meanwhile, Burnaby RCMP are releasing an updated sketch of the suspect who allegedly sexually assaulted a woman near the Burnaby Mountain Urban Trail on February 18th.
He’s described as a Caucasian male with a slim build, 5’7″, short straw-coloured hair and between the ages of 20 and 30.
Staff Sgt. Major John Buis says there are no other suspects in custody.
“I don’t have an update at this point other than to say the task force is very active and we are working with all of the local police departments and other public safety agencies to try and find this person.”
Buis says he understands the public is on edge, and that’s why such a forum was held.
Five assaults since January
Burnaby has seen five separate sex assaults in North Burnaby since January 29th, with three occurring within a week.
In all five incidents, a woman was approached by an unknown man in a public area.
Three of the incidents occurred along a SkyTrain route, while two others occurred on or near a popular walking trail.
The Burnaby RCMP announced a sexual assault task force after the fourth and fifth attacks, which occurred on the same weekend.