Detectives are investigating after a teenage girl was grabbed by a stranger on dark suburban steps in the Dunedin suburb of Kew.

The teenager was walking with three friends on the steps between Easther Cr and Forbury Rd about 10.30pm on Sunday, when a male assailant grabbed her from behind.

"Thankfully, she managed to get free,'' a police spokeswoman said.

"She managed to shrug off her jacket and run away.''

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The girl did not know the man and was shaken by the attack, police said.

"Police are looking for the male.

"However, there is no decent description and police are working to identify possible suspects,'' the spokeswoman said.

"No similar incidents have been reported and anyone with any information is asked to call Dunedin Central Police Station.''

CIB is investigating.

A dog unit was sent to the scene and the girl's jacket was found further down the steps, towards Forbury Rd, but no sign of the offender was discovered.

"She was shocked but not injured,'' the spokeswoman said.

Easther Cr resident Michael Lowe said she was alerted to the attack when she heard screaming.

"All I could hear was screaming,'' she said.

She tried to help the girls, but all they wanted was to find the attacker and the teen's jacket.

"We asked if the guy had any other intentions and she said, `No, I don't think so','' Lowe said.

"It was weird.

"This is a very quiet street and things like this don't normally happen.''

Anyone with information should contact Dunedin police (03) 471-4800 or Crimestoppers 0800 555-111.