SACRAMENTO - Police in Turlock are stepping up patrols around several schools after three teens were assaulted in less than 24 hours.
Police say one girl was groped as she was walking home from school Monday afternoon.
Two more students were assaulted on their way to school Tuesday morning.
The attacks put parents, students and staff at Turlock Junior High and Pitman High schools on high alert. A total of three female students were targeted in the area on three separate occasions.
The Turlock Unified School District sent out an automated phone message to all parents, warming them to take precautions.
The first incident happened Monday afternoon as a 16-year-old girl was walking home from school on Christoffersen Parkway. Police say a man grabbed her inappropriately. She was able to free herself and ran to a nearby church to ask for help.
On Tuesday morning, two similar attacks occurred as students were walking to school.
The first happened at 7:20 am when a man groped a 14-year-old girl. She managed to escape and alert campus police.
The man ran off, but five minutes later, police say he tried to grab a 13-year-old girl by the arm. She was also able to get away.
"It appears it's the same individual. We have been given the same description," Turlock Police Department spokesperson Mayra Lewis said.
The victims describe the predator as a white man in his mid-20s, with light brown or reddish hair, having scruffy facial hair and weighing 150 - 170 pounds.
Police have stepped up their patrols in the area but students are being cautious. Area student, Brianna Estorga said, "I'm not going to stay after school for any of the sports [events] or anything. And at lunch time, just be around a lot of adults."
Police encouraged parents to drop off and pick up their kids from school and students are asked to walk in groups.