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Police step up patrols after Red Line robberies

Boston and MBTA Transit Police are stepping up patrols after seven robberies of women walking from Red Line stations in Dorchester, Boston police said Thursday.

The women were robbed ­after leaving the JFK/UMass, Savin Hill, Shawmut, and ­Ashmont stations, Boston ­police said. The crimes happened between 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. during the past two weeks, police said.

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In some of the robberies, which have been linked to a sole assailant, the man displayed a handgun, police said.

The suspect is described as a 20- to 30-year-old black man with a thin build, wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, police said. The man engaged victims in a brief conversation before demanding money.

Transit Police Superintendent in Chief Joseph O’Connor said Transit Police are working with Boston police to help identify the suspect.

“There is no video evidence these women were getting followed out of the station,” O’Connor said. “We are aware of the robberies in the neighborhoods, and we have stepped up patrols at MBTA stations and on trains to reassure passengers.”

O’Connor said these assaults “create fear among females walking from the stations, and we are doing everything we can to reassure them it is safe.”

In a separate case involving a different suspect, a University of Massachusetts Boston student was ­assaulted last week as she walked toward the Sydney Street entrance of the JFK/­UMass station.

A law enforcement official with knowledge of the case said the woman was grabbed from behind and pushed up against a chain-link fence. The assailant grabbed her chest and groin.

The attacker was described as a white man in his mid-20s, about 5-foot-10, with a heavy build and a scruffy brown beard. At the time, he was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, light-colored jeans, and sneakers, Transit Police said.

Boston police said people should avoid walking alone late at night, travel in well-lit areas, and wear sneakers or shoes that allow for added mobility. Police also advised walkers to call ahead to their destination, hold car keys to use as a weapon against attackers, and keep a whistle within reach.

Information about the crimes can be provided to ­Boston police at 617-343-4335. Anonymous tips can be given by calling 800-494-8477 or text­ing the word “TIP” to CRIME (27463).

Melissa Werthmann
can be reached at melissa.
werthmann@globe.com
.
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