A string of indecent exposures have officers and people in Columbia on high alert.
The two most recent cases happened this past Sunday. The first was around noon inside of the T.J. Maxx on Harbison Boulevard.
"He had a cutting board in front of him," said Columbia Police SVU investigator Stephan Narewski. "He engaged her in a very short conversation, and then he moved in such a way that she was able to see his exposed genitals."
But that wasn't the only case that day. Two hours later, a 10-year-old girl was approached by a male at the 1500 block of Main Street where officers say she witnessed a man exposing and fondling himself. Her father followed him to the 1100 block of Taylor Street, but lost sight of him.
Narewski says following the suspect is not a good plan
"I would not recommend that because in our business you never know if the other guy is armed," said Narewski.
On Feb. 4, a woman was putting groceries in her car just before midnight when a man groped himself in front of her in the parking lot of the Walmart on Harbison.
"I would rather get them as exposers and get them registered as sex offenders at that point so that the community is aware of who they are," said Narewski.
But the clues in these cases are somewhat muddled. Police have descriptions of both men involved in the cases, but no clear leads.
"Many times, our victims look at the body part instead of the face, so when we go for the sketch artist or the picture ID we don't have them," said Narewski.
Police suggest taking out a camera phone and snapping a photo of the suspect's face in situations where you feel you aren't in danger.
"Do not approach within touching distance, but try to get a picture at a distance," said Narewski. "Many of the cameras have zoom capability."
If you have any information about the incident downtown or those in the Harbison area, you are urged to Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.
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