Attacker marked in latest sex assault 

Yet another woman was nearly raped Thursday during an early morning assault that left her attacker with what South San Francisco police say could be a significant identifier: a cut above his left eye.

Theattempt early Thursday morning was the fifth attack in a year that has seen two women raped and three assaulted by what police believe is the same man, all in an area spanning from Orange Memorial Park east to South Linden Avenue.

At 6:30 a.m. Thursday an unidentified Hispanic male approached a 34-year-old woman from behind near the 200 block of South Maple Avenue. As the woman unlocked the front door of a business, he asked if he could use the phone and forced his way inside with her, Cpl. Doug Smith of South San Francisco police said.

A struggle between the two ensued, and the suspect sustained a cut over his left eye after the woman hit him with an object, Smith said. The woman then locked herself inside a smaller room and dialed 911.

The suspect is described as 35 to 40 years old, 5 foot 6 inches, 140 to 150 pounds with a brown leather jacket and wearing beige latex gloves, Smith said. The description matches that of the suspect in a rape Feb. 9, 2006, on the 1500 block of Mission Road and the most recent attack, a rape on South Linden Avenue, near the intersection with Dollar Avenue, Smith said.

Police are comparing DNA evidence retrieved from the rapes with that of the blood evidence from Thursday’s attack. They said they still "cannot exclude" the same suspect from the two Orange Memorial Park attacks last November and September.

Smith said the suspect’s approach and forced entry into a place of business was different than previous incidents. "If this is the same guy, his methods are becoming bolder," Smith said.

Elizabeth P., who lives near Orange Memorial Park and walks to work in the area, said she stopped exercising in the park after the attacks.

"This area, when it gets dark, it’s really scary," she said.

Many walk to work in the area of the attacks, whether coming from Grand Avenue or the BART station, and should remember to walk in well-lit areas and in groups, police said.

Joel Gallardo, a manager at a company on the 100 block of South Maple where the vast majority of employees are female, described the company workers as "anxious." Each week they’re reminded to be safe and move their cars closer to the store’s parking lot when it’s daylight out to avoid walking a block to their cars at night, Gallardo said.

Those with information about the assaults should contact the South San Francisco Police Department at (650) 877-8900 or their TIP line, (650) 952-2244.

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