SAN MARCOS, Calif. – A call from an alert community member led to the arrest of a man accused in a series of sexual batteries at North County stores.
The San Diego Sheriff’s Department arrested the suspect at 5 p.m. Monday on suspicion of lewd behavior in a public place and providing false identifying information to police. Deputies said someone recognized him at the Walmart on Center Drive in San Marcos, called police and led them to his location inside the store.
The man’s arrest comes after several women reported being groped, grabbed or touched inappropriately while shopping. FOX 5 talked with two victims last week after the incidents were reported at Michaels, Ralphs and Target in late November and December.
“In that moment, you think maybe it was just an accident, maybe I’m the only one, but in reality he’s been doing this for months to women all over San Diego,” one victim said.
After the initial report to law enforcement, more women came forward from all over San Diego. They told police the same thing — a man rubbed up against them or touched them and when confronted, he apologized and pretended it was an accident.
The sheriff’s department said video also showed the suspect touching himself inappropriately.
“The most common theme that we’re seeing is that they really thought it was an accident — he really did just bump into her. When in reality, it was not an accident,” the victim said.
Deputies said they believe the man taken into custody is responsible for the series of sexual batteries under investigation by the San Marcos Sheriff’s Station, Vista Sheriff’s Station and San Diego Police Department.
The suspect, who has not yet been named, was booked into the Vista detention facility with bail set at $500,000. The sheriff’s department said eight counts of sexual battery are pending.
Deputies shared a message on Twitter following the arrest reminding victims how important it is that they reporting crimes to police.
“When you report a crime, instead of just posting on social media, we can properly investigate the incident, identify patterns and allocate resources,” the department said.