Four sexual assaults in Colorado Springs the past two weeks have neighborhood watch groups speaking out about the disturbing trend.
Dennis Moore, the neighborhood watch coordinator for the Colorado Springs Police Department, and John Nuwer of the Council of Neighbors and Organizations both shared their concerns about the crimes with KRDO Newschannel 13 on Friday.
Police say the assaults on June 19, July 1 and July 3 apparently were committed by four different men in four different areas of town, and each under different circumstances. The victims didn't know their attackers.
Moore and Nuwer understand those factors have made people uneasy, but they agree that no one should panic. While police continue to investigate, the two neighborhood leaders ask people to learn how to decrease their chances of becoming a victim.
"You don't want to have a gun drawn every time someone comes to the door and feel like you're going to be attacked," said Nuwer. "I think a lot of (the solution) is don't look out only for yourself. Look out for your neighbors, too."
Moore, who teaches a variety of safety classes for the police department, said everyone should have a plan in case they're threatened by a criminal or stranger.
"Most people don't make plans for that," he said. "Make a plan. Hopefully you'll never have to use it. If (an attack) were to happen to you, how would you react?"
Moore said having weapons, pepper spray and other items for self-protection aren't helpful if you're not aware of your surroundings.
"We feel safe at home because that's where we let our guard down," he said. "But one in every three sexual assaults happen in the home."
Moore said having plenty of exterior home lighting, and proper landscaping, will give criminals fewer places to hide and make them more visible.
Moore and Nuwer agree that you should never open your door for anyone unless it's someone you know or expect. Peepholes and deadbolts on doors, they said, allow you to see who's there and make a forced entry difficult.
Both neighborhood leaders also said a stranger can become a criminal later, and crimes could be prevented if suspicious activity or behavior is reported promptly.
"People generally don't like to report it," said Nuwer. "They're worried about retaliation from the person they report. But the only way to stop suspicious or illegal activity is to report it to police."
Moore said avoid walking alone when possible. If it's necessary, stay alert and watch for people who may approach you and come uncomfortably close. In that instance, he said, you should yell or scream -- anything to alert others and draw attention to the situation.
Police offer community education classes to help people prevent crime and improve personal safety. For more information, visit: http://www.springsgov.com/Files/2013%20Crime%20Prevention%20Class%20list.pdf