Florence Police search for sexual predator - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Florence Police search for sexual predator

An 18-year-old was sexually assaulted in her apartment near UNA on Monday. An 18-year-old was sexually assaulted in her apartment near UNA on Monday.

Florence Police are searching for a sexual predator after a Shoals woman was assaulted inside her own apartment.

Monday's attack has women across the Shoals concerned for their safety.

Local women have said the recent attack has violated their sense of security, and knowing he's still on the streets has them worried for their safety.

Florence Police said a man broke into an apartment at Summit Ridge early Monday morning.

According to reports, the man got in through the sliding glass door, sexually assaulted the woman while she was sleeping in her own bed, and then stole her purse while leaving.

Moranda Johnson, who lives in the apartment complex, said although she is scared the man could attack again, the case is forcing her to be more aware of her surroundings.

"It's making me plan ahead, though. What can I do to protect myself? I'm willing to go take some gun classes if that's what it takes to protect my safety and my friends' safety as well," she said.

"It does drive us a little more to look a little harder to go out and give the community the peace they deserve the peace they expect," said Sgt. Shane Blalock with Florence Police Department. "We're looking for anything that's outside of the norm - anything that looks like it doesn't fit in. Most of our officers are assigned zones and specific areas so they know what normal looks like."

Blalock and his fellow officers are working around the clock, trying to catch the prowler.

"Officer presence and officer visibility is one of the best deterrents we have," he said.

Blalock drove through several apartment complexes on Thursday, including Summit Ridge - the site of Monday's assault.

"I'm just afraid to even go to Walmart by myself, to get out of my car. I don't feel safe here," Johnson said.

She said the attack has her worried about her own safety.

"We're going to put an alarm on our doors so if anything we're alert if the alarm goes off. We're alert and we know what to do," she said.

Johnson also said women should make as much noise as possible if they come face to face with an intruder.

"Don't be quiet, girls. Be loud. Fight for your life if that's what it takes," said Johnson.

Police are relying on the public's help when it comes to reporting suspicious activity near homes.

They said if you see anything out of the ordinary, call them immediately. They said that one tip could be all it takes to stop a potential assault.

Copyright 2012 WAFF. All rights reserved.

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