Police hunting man for beach harassment

By Kiri Gillespie

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A Papamoa woman says she was terrified when stalked by a naked, aroused man on the beach - and believes something has to be done before things get worse.

The woman, who spoke on the condition she was not identified, told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend she was one of two women the man confronted on the beach, near Sunbrae Grove, last week.

She has spoken out after reading in yesterday's edition that another woman had been harassed on the beach by Waiariki St at Mount Maunganui this week and she has challenged Tauranga City Council to act before something worse happens.

Police are investigating whether the same man is responsible.

The woman involved in the first incident said she was still traumatised.

"He didn't run away. He actually walked straight up to us. He practically stalked me and now I'm reading it's actually happened again," the woman said.

"We are not young people. We are 60 years plus. I just feel something has to be done."

The woman recounted how scared she was when she was confronted by the man as she walked. "He came out of the sand dunes. It was freezing. Next minute he picked up a phone and started talking on it and came down to the water. When he got to the water . ... he started walking towards me. I thought 'thank goodness I had sunglasses on', I was terrified. He walked around me and about two metres behind me and then up the sand dunes," she said.

"If that's not tormenting and terrifying women, I don't know what is. Then on my way back, the guy comes out of the sand dunes again and he's standing there, sexually aroused."

It is understood the man did the same thing to the second woman shortly afterwards. "The other lady ... she's a mess, an absolute mess," she said.

The woman said there was a lot of new development and retirement villages in Maranui St "and across the road you have got sand dunes with men terrifying the hell out of people".

Mount Maunganui police believe the man who followed a woman this week was the same who confronted the two women last week.

Detective Sergeant Darryl Brazier said police had some nominated suspects and were going through the process of identifying these suspects with the victims this weekend.

Tauranga City Council spokesperson Marcel Currin said any complaints about criminal activity should always go to the police. "In general matters of public safety, the council is proactive about making sure public paths and access ways are not overgrown with shadowy harbours for dodgy activity.

"Two recent examples of this are at Matua Saltmarsh and along Takitimu Drive where walkway vegetation has been thinned out to create safer and more open environments."

SAME MAN?

The man who harassed a woman walking along the beach this week was described as Polynesian with olive skin and about 1.73m.

He was believed to be 45-55 years old, of medium to solid build, with missing upper front teeth, and wearing a blue T-shirt and black trackpants.

A naked man who confronted the two women last week was described as Maori of slim build, about 1.82m tall and 35-45 years old with a black goatee.

While dressed, he wore a black beanie, a black and white checkered hooded jumper with grey three-quarter length shorts and had a green army satchel slung over his shoulder with a flap and double strap.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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