Serial groper has South Tampa neighborhood on edge

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As trick-or-treaters prepare to descend on Tampa, the people who live in New Suburb Beautiful are worried about a serial groper.

Tampa police say a woman reported she was grabbed from behind by a man while jogging on Georgia Avenue between Sunset Drive and Watrous Avenue.

The neighborhood is normally quiet and peaceful, but people who live in the area are concerned and talking about the attack.

“Obviously we are a very tight neighborhood, so there were a lot of texts going around. We have neighborhood email and I read the story,” said Lori Longden, who lives in the neighborhood where the woman reported being groped.

The victim called police and reported a man on a bike grabbed her rear as she ran and then he sped off. The woman reported the incident on social media.

Tampa police say after the victim came forward, a second woman called to say she had suffered a similar attack two weeks before.

That has Longden and others concerned.

“If he feels confident to do this in the middle of the day, on a bike, with a jogger, in what we consider to be a very safe neighborhood, hopefully he just doesn’t take it up a notch and hoping that we can catch him prior to anything,” said Longden.

Tampa police say the victims provided only a very vague description of the suspect and they are asking anyone with information to call in.

In the meantime, Heather Whistin, who also lives in the area, says she may change her pattern of activity.

“I mean obviously it’s super concerning because so many of us that even live in my complex run this street to Bayshore at night, early morning, mid-day. So I’ve never heard of anything like that, but now I feel like maybe I shouldn’t be running,” said Whistin.

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