Columbia Police Looking for Suspect in Recent Break-Ins

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COLUMBIA - Investigators from the Columbia Police Department are looking for one suspect they believe is involved in a string of break-ins.

Sgt. Joe Bernhard said there have been nine incidents, beginning June 29, that could all be connected. The most recent incident happened on Nov. 17. Police are investigating break-ins on the 1200 block of Walnut, 1300 and 1400 block of Anthony, 1100 block of Locust, 1400 block of University, and 600 block of South William, occuring over a five-month span starting in June.

Bernhard said the suspect has touched female victims, lied in victims' beds' nude, appeared with his pants down, attempted to remove victims' clothing, threatened victims and struck victims.

"We have some directed patrols over there. We also have kind of the downtown units shifting over there as the bars close," said Asst. Chief Jill Schlude.

Police said in each of the nine reported incidents they believe may be related, the suspect entered through an unlocked door.

On Wednesday, two new victims reported another incident in the East Campus neighborhood.

They said somebody tried to break into their home on Anthony Street around 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

One resident said it heard someone messing around with the lock to the front door for about five minutes and eventually left.

They reported the incident to the police the next day and said there wasn't really anything they could do. On Wednesday, one resident said she caught a man watching her change clothes from her window.

"The blinds were down, but just like in between the blinds and window there was a man standing there like two or three inches from my window just like staring at me. I screamed really loud and slapped the window where he was and he ran away," said one resident.

She said before these incidents she had always felt safe in Columbia.

"I can't just leave the house and realize I forgot to lock the door," she said.

Schlude advised locking all doors and windows before going to bed and leaving home.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Columbia Police Department at 573-442-6131 or CrimeStoppers at 573-875-TIPS to remain anonymous.

[Editor's note: This story has been edited to remove the specific addresses of some people who may have been victims of sexual assault.]