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(Reuters) - Police in Philadelphia said on Friday they believe the same man is responsible for a string of sexual assaults in Northeast Philadelphia that have grown increasingly violent with each incident.
The three reported attacks, which began in late April, have all occurred in the Mayfair neighborhood and the victims were all walking alone down a city street when they were grabbed from behind and dragged to a secluded place, police said.
"He's getting more and more violent with each attack and that has got us on edge," Captain John Darby of the Philadelphia Police Department's Special Victims Unit told a news conference.
"There's a good possibility that these crimes are being done by the same offender," he said.
Police said that in all three attacks, the victims reported having a knife or sharp object held to their throats. The most recent attack happened Wednesday evening when a 20-year-old woman was knocked to the ground and then forced behind a building where she was sexually assaulted, police said.
The Mayfair area where the attacks have occurred is a middle-class neighborhood with a large Irish-American population.
Local authorities were asking the public to be on the lookout.
"We're doing everything we can, so we definitely need the public's help," Darby said.
Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Leslie Adler