Police warn of groper in Plant City park

- There's a warning out for Hillsborough County after at least two women reported being groped by a man in a Plant City park.

Police officers are stepping up patrols near the Mike Sansone Community Park. Both women told investigators the stranger approached them from behind right in the middle of the day.

“Usually, if I’m walking even in a parking lot, now I’ll have my keys and I’ll also have the mace, just if anything were to happen,” Alex Rhoades said.

The Plant City woman isn’t taking any chances. Safety is now her main concern.

“I was terrified. I was just really shaken up,” said Alex.

Back in November, Alex was walking home from the park, and when she got on Frontage Road a man in a pick-up truck pulled over asking if she wanted a ride.

“He asked again, I just brushed it off and continued walking, probably about 15-feet, 10 to 15-feet is when I felt his hands on me from behind and he had grabbed me,” she said.  “I screamed and turned around, and that’s when he ran off.”

Alex felt violated and on edge.

Now, five months later, a similar attack in the same area. This time, Plant City police say a woman and her friend were near the tennis courts.

“And when they were walking they were approached by a young Hispanic male, and that subject groped the victim,” said Sgt. Al Van Duyne with the Plant City Police.

In both cases, the suspect is described as having long hair and some facial hair. Both ladies also say the man was driving a lifted, black pick-up truck. The victim in Wednesday’s assault says it was a Ford F250 with tan lower trim and a toolbox in the bed.

Officers urge everyone to be aware of their surroundings.

“It’s very frightening to know that this guy is still out here and it’s a pattern,” said Alex.

If something like this has happened to you, or you know anything about these incidents, call the police.

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