Wichita police are looking into whether two more robberies of women Tuesday are connected to a string of recent reports of men approaching vehicles and demanding cash or to be taken to ATMs.
Lt. James Espinoza on Wednesday again asked for anyone who spots these men or is approached in a similar way while he or she is out to call 911.
The suspects have had similar methods of approaching their intended victims — out in parking lots, usually at apartment complexes when the person is alone, displaying a gun and demanding money or valuables or a ride to an ATM.
The descriptions victims give of their attackers are also similar. There have been at least seven such reports recently, including two earlier this week.
In one of the two latest attacks police are investigating, a 25-year-old woman was out of her car to retrieve mail at a curbside mailbox in the 5600 block of Shadowridge at 8 p.m. Tuesday when she was approached by a man brandishing a handgun. The man ordered her to return to her car and hand over her purse and cellphone, Espinoza said.
During the exchange, a second man approached and then both retreated to a dark-colored vehicle parked nearby and left.
The woman and two children inside of her car — a 1-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy — were unharmed. The address is near 29th Street North and Rock Road.
In the other attack, a 21-year-old woman had pulled her car over into the parking lot of an apartment complex in the 9100 block of East Harry to clean up a spilled beverage when a man approached her driver’s side front window. He pointed a gun at her, demanding she hand over money and purse, and got away with a small amount of cash, Espinoza said.
The woman wasn’t hurt. That assault took place shortly after midnight Tuesday, Espinoza said.
The other recent robberies or robbery attempts police say may be connected took place in the 1400 block of North St. Paul, the 10000 block of East Skinner, at 1157 S. Webb, in the 9100 block of East Harry and at 1945 N. Rock Road, Espinoza said.
All but one of the victims have been women.
In three of the four attacks reported this week, the suspects are described as black men with thin or medium builds, around 5 feet 10 inches tall and wearing a dark- or light-colored hooded sweatshirt or a winter coat. Sometimes they’re described as being in their 20s.
At least one carries a handgun.
The woman approached after she pulled over to clean up a beverage spill described her assailant as in his 20s, 5-9 to 5-11, and wearing a red hat and red coat.
Espinoza on Wednesday urged residents to be cautious when out, especially when they’re alone.
“It’s going to take citizens being involved, to make sure they’re aware of their surroundings and to please call police when there’s a suspicious character or something out of line” to help solve these crimes, Espinoza said.