Patrols are being ramped up in Isla Vista following reports of sexual assaults and an attempted kidnapping earlier this week.
The investigation began Monday after the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office says several reports were made to UCSB police.
The first call was around 5:05 p.m. reporting an indecent exposure, according to sheriff’s spokesperson Raquel Zick, who says similar incidents on the west side of Isla Vista were reported shortly after.
Just after 7 p.m., Zick says a man approached a woman near Camino Del Sur and Sueno Road and fondled her breast while covering her mouth. He then reportedly got inside a vehicle and drove off.
At 8:30 p.m., Zick says another call to university police came in of another fondling incident near West Campus Family Housing.
Zick says deputies searched for a suspect throughout the night and air support was also brought in but no arrests were made.
He was described as a college-age man driving a 1990’s Toyota Camry or possibly a 1990’s Honda.
Detectives were assigned to the cases on Tuesday morning. Zick says deputies are continuing to respond to reports of possible suspect sightings and adds that many calls and even online tips have come into the sheriff’s office from community members, concerned parents and others trying to offer information to help identify the person involved.
A community safety and support event was held Tuesday evening in Isla Vista to provide a trauma-informed space for anyone affected and also to provide people with updates and answers to questions following the incidents.
The sheriff’s office says deputies and UCSB police have increased patrols both in Isla Vista and on campus and adds that UCSB will have additional CSO staffing added to their escort service.
The annual Lighting and Safety Walk is set for Monday at 5:30 p.m. on the west side of the library near the arbor.
UCSB police are also planning to offer self-defense classes soon.
Anyone with information that may help authorities with the investigation is asked to call the sheriff’s office at (805) 681-4100. Anonymous tips can be made online.
UCSB police can be reached at (805) 893-3446 or anonymously online here.
The UCSB Police Department has provided the following safety tips:
- Perpetrators are responsible for sexual assault. Crime victims are never responsible for the behavior of perpetrators.
- If you start to feel concerns about a person or a situation, trust your instincts and try to remove yourself as quickly as possible from the potential threat.
- If you think someone is at risk of assault or abuse, you should consider it an emergency and act to support that person. You can call the police or ask for help from other people, intervene directly if safe, or create a distraction to help remove the potential victim from the situation.
- If you feel you are being followed, try to get the attention of people nearby, run/walk to a well-lit and/or more populated area, and call 911 to ask for help.
The UCSB Police Department’s free CSO Safety Escort program is available to members of the UCSB community who would otherwise be walking along at night. To request an escort, call (805) 893-2000 For more information, click here.