After a series of disturbing crimes on Beacon Hill over the past month, most frighteningly the home invasion and rape of a woman last weekend, nearly 70 people turned out Thursday night to hear police officers discuss the cases and give tips on how to keep safe.
“When stuff like this happens it kind of makes everyone afraid,” Capt. Tom Lee, commander of the downtown district, told the crowd. "But we don’t want to frighten everybody. This is a very safe neighborhood."
The sexual assault has shaken the sense of security for many on the Hill. The crime happened around 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 10 as the woman was walking home. She saw the man but didn't think he was a threat, Lee said. He followed her home, flashed what looked like a knife, robbed and raped her.
Lee said that police have not yet identified a suspect but the department has made it a top priority.
"Detectives from the Sexual Assault Unit have been working around the clock on this case," he said. Many businesses and individuals have sent in private videos from cameras facing out from their homes and establishments.
"We’ve had great cooperation from the neighborhood," Lee said.
Police have released a video of suspect using the victim's ATM card early Saturday morning and are asking anyone with any information about who the man might be to contact the Sexual Assault Unit at (617) 343-4400, CrimeStoppers Tip Line anonymously at 1-800-494-TIPS or text the word ‘TIP’ to CRIME (27463). The Boston Police Department says it stringently guards and protects the identities of those who wish to remain anonymous.
The man is described as a black male with braided hair, 5’8” in height, late 20s to early 30s, medium complexion, wearing a du-rag type cap, a tan colored three-fourths length construction type jacket, dark jeans and dark sneakers. Suspect believed to be carrying a large blue backpack with a white helmet.
There has been a marked increase in police patrols on Beacon Hill since the rape, and Lee said that the number of unmarked patrols is also up.
Police and City Councilor Michael Ross emphasized that the key to keeping the Hill safe is increased vigilance on the part of residents. If someone seems suspicious, don't be afraid to call police, they said. Sometimes criminals will dress as handymen or deliverymen so as to not raise suspicion when entering a home or getting someone to answer their door.
Police officer Michael Aziz gave a short talk about how residents can try to protect themselves from criminals. In addition to many other tips, Aziz said people should have a plan about what to do when attacked, so that they don't freeze on the spot. Also, never allow yourself to be taken to a second location.
Officers also reminded women that Rape Aggression Defense courses offer many practical and useful tips for women to try to thwart attacks. Beacon Hill Athletic Club will also offer a free hourlong self-defense course Saturday at noon by Phil Myers. Notify Jeremy McCabe if you are interested at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beacon Hill resident Paula O'Keeffe, who organized the Thursday night meeting, said she is looking into organizing a self-protection demonstration on Beacon Hill.