New Information: 4 trail attacks & 1 sidewalk attack may all be - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New Information: 4 trail attacks & 1 sidewalk attack may all be linked in Waterloo

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

UPDATE: Waterloo Police investigating a rash of attacks in the area. 

Four attacks on the trails in the area and now one near 8th & Wellington Street Thursday evening, may be related.

Waterloo Police Captain David Mohlis telling KWWL the five attacks have similar witness accounts. 

The witnesses say the teens have assaulted them and in some cases stolen wallets and cellphones from the victims.

Captain Mohlis says witnesses describe the attackers as black males and females ranging in age from 13 to 20.

The assailants have been in groups of anywhere from 12 teens to 2 teens. 

Waterloo Police is bringing in extra officers to patrol the city and trails this weekend.

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Since the beginning of July, Waterloo Police say there have been four trail attacks, and they are investigating whether all incidents are connected.

The most recent attack was reported on Sergeant Trail at the end of Falls Avenue in Waterloo where a woman said three young males on bikes hit her Wednesday night.

The one before that also happened Wednesday night on Park Avenue involving a male victim.

Waterloo Police Captain David Mohlis says two other trail incidents were reported on July 6 and July 12.

Waterloo Police say the attackers seem to be going after men and women who are running alone.

Instead of running in fear or avoiding the trails, runners in the the Cedar Valley are adapting.

Aside from watching for traffic, runners now have to worry about hitting the trails alone.

That's why runners Tami Jones and Michelle Monroe are part of the Dirt Divas and Runner's Flat running groups.

"It really provides an extra element of safety. I very rarely run by myself, and if I do, it's in the street," Jones said.

Tami said runners need to be cautious of their surroundings at all times, which includes running without headphones.

"It's really not safe to be on the trails by yourself. If you have to be, you have to take extra precautions, mace, and having another out, but you're still probably not super safe. So, the more you can be with people -- the better," Jones said.

"It's heartbreaking. We shouldn't have to be afraid to go for a run in our back yard, but some people who don't have good intentions will mess up somebody's day," Monroe said.

For nearly 20 dollars, experts recommend a can of running mace.

It's easy to use.

You simply secure it to your hand, pop open the top, and spray it once to make sure it's working.

"Having the mace gives you a confidence boost. If you were in a bad situation, you have an option to help get you out of the situation. I keep one in my car, and I keep one at home. So, no matter where I'm running from, I can have one with me," Monroe said.

According to Waterloo Police, they believe the last two attacks involved the same three young males.

Waterloo Police Captain David Mohlis said they're looking into the possibility of all four attacks being connected.

Authorities confirm the runners' injuries have been non-life threatening so far.

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