GRAPEVINE, Texas — A suspected serial groper remains on the run in Grapevine, and more women are trying to protect themselves through self defense.
At least five attacks have occurred since April at a Grapevine apartment complex, most of them clustered along Mustang Avenue. The encounters have included physical assault, indecent exposure and one instance when a woman was left with a broken collar bone after she tried to fight her attacker off.
"We don't want anyone to let their guard down. Just because there haven't been more attacks doesn't mean anyone should stop being cautious," said Amanda McNew, Grapevine PD spokesperson.
Grapevine PD released a composite image of the suspected groper, and surveillance video also shows one of the attacks in progress. While there have been multiple leads, the department has not been able to make an arrest in the case.
Grapevine has stepped up patrols in response to the incident, but the department also offers another way for residents to help protect themselves.
For years, the police department has been offering free self-defense courses for women, and the officer who teaches them says the attacks have prompted more residents to sign up.
"Ladies have mentioned to me in the class the reason they took it is the footage they saw on TV," Sgt. Jason Keller said.
Keller, who has been with the department for more than two decades, said that the classes have helped at least 2,000 women. Anyone age 13 and older are eligible to sign up on the city's website, and he said that the most recent class offering filled up within a matter of hours. The next class in August is also full, but they are accepting applicants for a waiting list.
Nine hours of instruction are split over three class periods, which include practical techniques to ward off an attacker and information on how to prevent attacks in the first place. Participants are also able to engage in a simulated fight with pads to help prepare for the real thing.
"We try to make it as real as possible," Keller said. "It's surviving that initial 30 seconds in a violent encounter, where you can kind of get your footing and catch your breath."