They stopped in April just as suddenly as they had started in
November of last year. The case garnered wide-spread media attention
just before the assaults stopped.
Costa Mesa Police also stepped up their patrols in the area and
released fliers, including composite sketches of two possible
That could have spooked the people who were committing the
assaults, Costa Mesa Police Sgt. Jack Archer said.
"After the public became more aware of them, they either backed
off or decided they had something better to do," Archer said.
Because all the women who said they were attacked described the
attackers as young men or teens, they could have been doing it for
thrills, Archer said. After a while, the thrill might have worn off,
"They could have got bored with it," he said.
It's also possible that the people involved were arrested on
unrelated charges and are off the streets, he said.
Costa Mesa Police have fliers with the composite sketches of the
alleged assailants posted throughout the station. If an officer
arrested someone and found similarities to the sketch, police could
ask one of the past assault victims to try to identify the new
arrestee, he said.
Another problem with finding people in such a case is the
reluctance of many victims to come forward and report attacks.
After many of the attacks were reported in January and April,
three more women came forward, reporting similar attacks in November
and December, Archer said.
Police held two classes in the neighborhood in April to teach
women how to avoid being victimized. Fewer than 10 people showed up,
Lt. John FitzPatrick said.
"We had a high degree of apathy from people regarding this unless
it directly involved them," FitzPatrick said. "But by no means is the
police department apathetic. It's still on our checklist."
Since the assaults stopped, City Councilman Allan Mansoor said, he
hasn't heard concerns from the community beyond their normal interest
in safety issues.
"After there was no more word on them, I guess people took that as
a good sign," Mansoor said. "The police increased their patrols, and
I guess that really had an effect."
Police did make one arrest in May after a 7-11 surveillance camera
caught a teenager reaching under the skirt of a female customer. The
store was at the corner of Victoria Street and Placentia Avenue.
Investigators decided that the incident was not related to the
other assaults and did not file charges. The boy did, however, have
to complete a community service program for first-time juvenile
offenders, Archer said.
Even though the attacks appear to have stopped, people should take
normal precautions when they walk in that area, or any other, he
"When you're out, take safety precautions," he said. "Don't walk
by yourself. Let someone know where you're going."
Anyone with any information on the Victoria Street assaults is
asked to call Costa Mesa Police Det. Mike Delgadillo at (714)
* MARISA O'NEIL covers public safety and courts. She may be
reached at (949) 574-4268 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.