Santa Barbara County sheriff’s investigators are looking for a man who sexually assaulted a female hiker Nov. 8 on the Aliso Trail in Santa Ynez Valley and warning hikers to take precautions before heading out on a hike.
The assault followed an attempted sexual assault on a female hiker Oct. 11 on the Baron Ranch Trail about 2½ miles north of Refugio State Beach, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Raquel Zick.
She said it’s unclear whether the assailant was the same person in both cases, but both incidents took place on rural hiking trails that had very few fellow hikers on them.
The investigations into the two incidents are ongoing, and sheriff’s detectives are asking anyone with information about them or the suspect to call them at 805-681-4150 or leave an anonymous tip online at www.sbsheriff.org/home/anonymous-tip/.
In the meantime, the Sheriff’s Office is advising hikers to take precautions before hitting the trail, including hiking with a companion who is preferably from your own household for COVID-19 safety, and set out early enough to return before sunset.
Complete a hike plan that includes where you’ll hike, arrival and return time, who is accompanying you and your contact information, and have a way to communicate that doesn’t rely on cellphone service, like a personal locator beacon.
If relying on a cellphone, make sure the battery is fully charged and consider leaving it turned off or on airplane mode until it’s needed, Zick said.
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