£5,000 on offer for canal crime clues

A REWARD of £5,000 is being offered for information about a series of sexual exposure incidents on the Basingstoke Canal towpath.

Crimestoppers, which is offering the money for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators, said the incidents have occurred over the past 18 months.

There have been five over five months, with the most recent reported offence taking place on Friday 15 January at around 12.30pm.

The others were on Thursday 17 December last year at around 8pm; Tuesday 1 December at around 4.40pm; Friday 20 November at around 7.30am and Tuesday 29 September at around 6.30pm.

A spokesman for the independent charity said the offences took place over a large stretch of the towpath and were aimed at a range of female victims, from young teenagers to much older people, who were flashed at, or approached in an intimidating and suspicious way.

The reward will expire on 3 May, but might be extended and any information, no matter how small or apparently insignificant, could help the police investigation.

Glenys Balchin, Crimestoppers’ manager for Surrey and Sussex, said: “These indiscriminate incidents must stop, which is why we are making this appeal. We believe that answers lie in the community to identify and stop whoever is responsible.

“Our charity believes in safe communities and we hope our reward will help.

“Do you know anyone who has been acting in a strange way or were you walking or driving in the area when any of these incidents took place?

“Perhaps you have dashcam footage or CCTV images that may reveal something. You can contact our charity 100% anonymously, always, with what you know.”

Surrey Police have described the suspect in the 15 January incident as a man with olive skin aged about 30 with a skinny build and approximately 5ft 8in tall. He was wearing a grey tracksuit with a hoodie that had a chunky zip.

The man exposed himself to a jogger near Sheerwater before running away towards Woking town centre.

Inspector Dave Bentley, the Woking borough commander, said: “We firmly believe that someone in our community will hold the key to identifying this man.”

In response to the incidents, patrols by uniformed and plain clothes police have been increased.

“We are urging the public to remain vigilant when using the towpath and to report anything suspicious to us straightaway,” said Insp Bentley. “The quicker you report suspicious behaviour or activity, the quicker we can attend, and this increases our chances of successfully locating and catching the offenders.”

Police said anyone walking on the towpath who encountered a suspicious situation should look for a way to escape, put distance from the other person if possible and call 999 as soon as possible.

Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously by visiting crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling freephone 0800 555 111.

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