DALLAS Lake Highlands residents dropped off homemade food and snacks to the Dallas Police Department's northeast substation Tuesday in gratitude for the arrest of a serial rapist who terrorized the community for more than a month.

Jennifer Coats was among the residents who brought a box full of gifts.

"Homemade muffins, gum, coffee, and chocolate chip cookies and snacks," she said, clutching a box. "And some sweet letters thanking our police officers for what they did."

For weeks, residents lived in fear as police searched for a suspect who broke into three homes and sexually assaulted three women, often during daylight hours.

Police arrested Cesar Benitez in connection with the case on April 3. Authorities said DNA evidence linked the 30-year-old to the rapes, which occured on Feb. 22, March 15 and March 19. Two of them happened in the same block of Ferndale.

The attacks spurred a massive public outcry, as residents packed community events to get more information from investigators and put up fliers of the suspected attacker. Dallas police increased its presence in the neighborhood, adding more patrol cars and mounted officers.

"I just really want to say thank you to those officers, because they were out there for us. And maybe we don't always show our appreciation like we should do," said Patsy Melhorn, who showed up at the police station with a cake.

There has been a sigh of relief in the community following the development. Various homeowners associations encouraged residents to drop off the gifts.

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