ASTORIA, NY (PIX11)—Police are still searching for a bicycle-riding pervert who is terrorizing unsuspecting women in Astoria, Queens, and a local blog manager has even created an anonymous page for victims to document their encounters.
Two of the victims, a 33-year-old school teacher from Pittsburgh, and a 30-year-old event planner, were both fondled as they walked on 28th Ave. in Astoria.
Both of them told PIX 11 a perverted bicyclist rolled up behind them and grabbed their behinds -- it even happened twice in two days to the teacher.
"The first time, I was in shock," the teacher, who didn't want to be identified, told us Wednesday. "The second time, I shouted obscenities."
The event planner, 30-year-old Michelle Gutman, was willing to go public because she wants police to know about the more than 20 women who have reported incidents on the website WhyLeaveAstoria.com -- and to publicize the cases before the perverted cyclist escalates. "When you touch me or touch another woman, it's a completely different story! Who knows what he's going to try to do next! Or if he's doing it to kids!"
The six pages of comments under the post about the bike-riding perv are filled with personal accounts of the ride-by gropings. "i think that same guy came up to me on his bike on 28th ave right in front of laundromat at 35th st. he got off, grabbed a pair of panties from my laundry basket, got back on his bike and took off," wrote one woman.
"This is the same guy that groped my friend on 30th ave last week. She was carrying home groceries at 2pm (in broad daylight!!) and he rode by and grabbed her ass. She dropped her groceries and yelled after him. My hope is that if it happens again, people do the same thing that she and you did and make sure to yell about it, and hopefully someone will actually stop him," said another woman.
The two women PIX 11 spoke to described the cyclist as young, Hispanic, with short and spiky dark hair, wearing a white T-shirt. But the women believe at least two men on bicycles are going around groping women, part of a problem that began last summer.
Astoria is a quiet, bedroom community close to midtown Manhattan that's attracting many young and attractive "urban professionals" to reside there.
One of the women posting on the website said a bicyclist pulled a pair of her panties out of a laundry basket. The teacher from Pittsburgh said, "I always thought Astoria was a very safe neighborhood, but this has given me pause."
City Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr.--who represents Astoria--learned about the problem when he was alerted to the website. He said he spoke to officers at the 114th Precinct Tuesday and told PIX 11 "I can ensure you that now they're doing everything they can." Vallone told us he even cruised busy 30th Avenue in Astoria on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle Tuesday, looking for any perverted pedal-ers.
The teacher told us she didn't think the cyclist was a delivery person, because there was no basket on his bike. And she's concerned his offensive behavior may get worse--and more dangerous. "If this is the same man, doing this to multiple women, who's to say he won't take this to the next level?" the teacher asked.