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Hunt for Harrogate sex act suspect

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Police in Harrogate are appealing for help to track down a man who allegedly performed sex acts near a cycle path.

The incidents occurred along the Bilton to Ripley cycle path in August last year and February this year.

On Thursday 21 August between 6pm and 6.30pm, a woman was jogging towards Ripley when she spotted a man appear from bushes in the distance. As she approached him she noticed he was topless, had his trousers around his ankles and was performing a sex act on himself.

The second – and almost identical – incident was reported by a woman cyclist at around 4.30pm on Thursday 12 February this month. She was about a mile into her journey from Bilton when the suspect walked out from trees.

On both occasions the cycle path was quiet with very few people nearby.

The suspect is described as white, aged between 30 and 50, about 6ft tall with a skinny to medium build and a hairless chest. He was wearing a baseball cap, possibly dark/navy blue or grey in colour.

Sergeant Amanda Hanusch-Moore, of the Harrogate Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “Due to the similarity of the circumstances and the descriptions of the suspects, we believe the two disturbing incidents are connected.

“We are appealing for people to come forward with any information that could help to identify the man involved. We are particularly interested in other incidents that have not been reported to the police.

“Even the smallest piece of information or detail could prove vital to the investigation.”

While the two women who reported the incidents were not directly threatened by the man, it is important that people remain vigilant and alert of their surroundings at all times.

Sgt Hanusch-Moore added: “If you feel threatened or in danger, our advice is to always dial 999 for an emergency police response.”

If you can assist the investigation, please contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 1, and speak to theForce Control Room.

Alternatively, contact the independent crime-fighting charityCrimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their Anonymous Online Form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Last modified: May 9, 2018