POLICE had been told of attacks on lone women near to where a 33-year-old vanished off the street in London, it has been claimed.
Sarah Everard has not been seen for more than five days since she disappeared after leaving a friend's house in Clapham, South West London, at about 9pm on Wednesday.
She was due to arrive home in nearby Brixton less than an hour later but hasn't been heard from since.
Now, it is understood detectives investigating her disappearance had been told of assaults on women in the area, reports the Times.
In January, Metropolitan Police received a report of sexual harassment on a young female on Hydethorpe Road, just half a mile from where Sarah was last caught on CCTV.
At the start of February, a woman was witnessed being chased by a man just over a mile away.
Then, just three weeks ago, a 14-year-old girl was followed by a man in a van less than half a mile from where Sarah was last seen.
Meanwhile, other women said they reported groups of men following a woman in neighbouring district Balham.
But Scotland Yard has said it is so far not linking Sarah's disappearance to any other incidents, with it still being treated as a missing person's case.
Metropolitan Police confirmed on Monday they remain "open-minded" about what may have happened.
Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin, who is leading the investigation, said: "This is definitely a missing person investigation at the moment but I remain open-minded as to all possibilities in the investigation."
She said 750 people have now been spoken to by officers as they desperately try to find the missing marketing manager.
It comes after cops warned women to be careful when walking outside alone after Sarah vanished.
Alarmed locals have revealed police have urged them to be vigilant after the mysterious disappearance.
One said cops knocked on her door on Sunday night and warned her "not to go out alone" as they desperately try to piece together what happened.
Another woman, aged in her 30s, told The Sun Online: “I was told to be more careful because I live on my own.
“The police came round and said to be careful.
“I don’t want to leave the house at the moment. You don’t know what happened.
“It makes me very worried. I just can’t believe it.”
While one resident added: “The police have been round every day for the last three days.
“They said to be a lot more vigilant.”
Police have also trawled through hours of CCTV around Sarah's movements on the night she vanished.
DCI Goodwin has now appeared for anyone with footage to come forward – especially anyone driving along Poynders Road at 9pm on Wednesday.
She added: "The evidence that you have on your dash cam could be absolutely vital to finding Sarah."
DCI Goodwin said specialist officers had been drafted in from across the Metropolitan Police to help with the investigation and she thanked members of the public who had come forward with information.
"We are all looking to try and find Sarah as quickly as possible," she added.
She said she had met Sarah's family, adding: "My heart goes out to them in this most difficult time and they are doing everything that they can in order to help find her along with her friends".
Officers have now widened to the search area to a park close to where Sarah's phone last pinged.
Specialist divers and officers with sniffer dogs were today seen looking in ponds in Agnes Riley Gardens.
They are also combing for clues in a nearby housing estate, which is near to Sarah's last sighting on CCTV at around 9.30pm on Poynder's Road heading in the direction of Tulse Hill.
Police had previously been searching ponds in Clapham Common in a bid to find the missing marketing manager.
Detectives from the Met's Specialist Crime Command, which deal with homicides and major crime for the force, have now taken over the investigation.
The Met said Sarah's disappearance is still being treated as a missing person's case.
Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin said: "I would like to stress that there is no information at this stage to suggest anything untoward may have happened to Sarah.
"The focus remains on returning her home to her family safe and well and that is our number one priority.
"I would like to thank Sarah's family and friends, the local community and members of the public for their help to raise awareness of this appeal and for coming forward with information.
"I would urge anybody who has information or noticed any suspicious activity in the area to contact us if you haven't already. "
It comes after Sarah's uncle pleaded with any potential abductor to "just to be human and to let her come home".
Nick Everard added: “If someone is holding her against her will I would plead with them just to be human and to let her come home, to let her talk to us, give us a ring or text to let us know she is OK.
“These are desperate times for the family. We know the police are doing everything they can but it's the not knowing what has happened after four days is agonising.”
Sarah's family previously revealed their anguish over the "out-of-character" disappearance.
On Wednesday night, Sarah left a friend's house in Leathwaite Road in Clapham about 9pm.
She headed through a back gate onto the A205 South Circular before she is believed to have walked across Clapham Common.
Clues to find Sarah
Officers are also asking people in the following areas to check doorbell or dashcam footage for any sightings of Sarah:
- The A205 South Circular around Clapham Common
- Cavendish Road
- New Park Road
- Brixton Hill
- Brixton Water Lane
The map shows a possible route Sarah would have followed
The marketing manager had spoken to her partner on the phone for about 15 minutes, and has not been heard from since that point, according to her friend Rose Woollard.
Police say it is not clear if she made it back to her home in nearby Brixton.
Sarah moved to the capital for work around 12 years ago and has a brother, James, and sister, Katie, who also live in London.
Her mum and dad have travelled from their home in York to assist with the search.
Her family said: "With every day that goes by we are getting more worried about Sarah.
"She is always in regular contact with us and with her friends and it is totally out of character for her to disappear like this. We long to see her and want nothing more than for her to be found safe and well.
"We are so grateful to the police and all our friends for all they are doing. We are desperate for news and if anyone knows anything about what has happened to her, we would urge you to please come forward and speak to the police.
"No piece of information is too insignificant."
Sarah’s sister, Katie, added on Facebook: “No words. Please share and contact me if you hear anything.”
Sarah was last seen wearing a green rain jacket, navy blue trousers with a white diamond pattern and turquoise and orange trainers.
She was also thought to have been wearing green earphones and a white beanie hat.
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Kenward, from the Central South Public Protection Team, said: "Sarah's disappearance is completely out of character and understandably her family and friends are incredibly worried.
"We are also growing increasingly concerned for her welfare and have officers working round the clock to try and find her.
"I would ask anybody who was in the Clapham Common area on Wednesday night to think about whether you saw Sarah or any suspicious activity around the time of her disappearance."
Specialist officers and volunteers from London Search and Rescue are carrying out searches in the area of Clapham Common and the walking route between Clapham and Brixton.
Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting CAD 3309/06MAR.
Information can also be provided anonymously by calling the Missing People charity on 116 000.
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