Reporting Susanna Song
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UPDATED 08/17/12 11:15 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Guardian Angels were out patrolling a section of the East Lakeview neighborhood Friday morning, after a man tried to sexually assault a woman in her home on Newport Avenue.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the Guardian Angels say if women felt unsafe, members of the group would be happy to escort them wherever they need to go.
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They patrolled the area until 9 a.m. and let people know what happened, as police search for the assailant.
The Guardian Angels remained on the block through the morning, posting fliers and warning joggers, commuters and people walking their dogs who were not aware of the attack. They say they are allowing escorts anytime day or night, and will be back in the neighborhood on Friday night.
The attack happened in the 800 block of West Newport Avenue, near Halsted Street. Investigators say a 25-year-old woman woke up around 5 a.m. Thursday to find a stranger attempting to sexually assault her.
He had entered through the back door.
The woman’s roommate, 24, woke up from the noise and scared the intruder away. He took off, stealing some items from the house.
The assailant is described as a 25- to 35-year-old African-American man with close cropped hair, police said. He is 6 feet 1 inch to 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 180 to 200 pounds.
He was last seen wearing a dark, long-sleeved T-shirt and jeans, police said.
The long block of Newport Avenue where the attack happened connects two sections of Lakeview that are both among the city’s busiest neighborhoods.
Just to the east, the Boystown strip of Halsted Street is busy late into the night. To the west, Clark Street and Sheffield Avenue meet at Newport Avenue in the heart of the Wrigleyville entertainment district.
The 800-900 block of West Newport Avenue itself is its own historic district, lined largely with late 19th-century graystones. Neighbors characterize it is quiet and safe — some of them to the point where they feel extra security measures are not necessary.
Sarai Haro found Friday morning about the attack, and said, “That is not something a girl wants to hear.”
Haro added that she and her roommate made a big mistake Thursday night.
“We feel really safe. Our back door was open all night, because we just let the breeze in, because we feel totally safe here,” she said. “Apparently not.”
Haro is not the only one who is changing habits.
“I definitely have done that – left my windows unlocked – and so now, I’m just a little safer about it,” said neighbor Sara Dambrowski.
The Guardian Angels reminded women in the area to be careful.
“You let your guard down. You live in a safe area, and in your own home? It’s the last place you think someone is actually going to come in,” said Chicago Guardian Angels leader Miguel Fuentes.
Bob Nowicki, who owns and manages a nearby building, calls the incident a wake-up call.
“We’re having a big problem with the renters, (who) want to prop door open for easy access for them and their friends in the evening hours, and it’s giving these creeps the idea they can just go up and down and push doors until one or two of them open,” Nowicki said.
Nowicki has noticed for some time now that residents have been lax about security. He says the front door is the most important one to keep shut.
“This is the thickest door – at the first level,” he said. “The doors upstairs are more like bedroom doors. You can easily break through them. But at least lock them. They come with keys.”
And some managers are reminding tenants to be responsible by keeping outside doors completely closed.
“I’m definitely going to be a lot more vigilant,” Haro said.
Anyone with information on the attack is asked to call Area North police detectives, at (312) 744-8261.