Police are warning South Surrey residents to be on the alert after a senior was physically and sexually assaulted in her Grandview-area home Wednesday afternoon.
“This is an incomprehensible crime,” Staff Sgt. Dale Carr said in a news release issued just after midnight Thursday. “To prey on anyone is way offside, but then to prey on a 70-year-old woman is unconscionable.”
Police initially described the incident as an “interrupted break-and-enter.”
Thursday’s statement notes the victim called police from a neighbour’s home to report the assault, which occurred around noon in the 16700-block of 28 Avenue.
According to police, it took place shortly after the resident returned home from a morning out, when a man entered the home, presented a weapon and restrained the senior.
The intruder demanded cash and other items, but when the woman couldn’t comply, he physically and sexually assaulted her, causing significant injuries, then fled.
The victim was able to free herself from the restraints, and police were alerted just before 2 p.m.
Police raced to the scene and set up a “containment” area, blocking 28 Avenue east from 167 Street and stationing officers at various points of the neighbourhood.
Anyone approaching the area was advised to stay back “for safety reasons.”
As of Peace Arch News press deadline Thursday morning, no one was in custody, no suspect had been identified, the victim remained in hospital and police continued to collect evidence at the crime scene and canvass the neighbourhood for witnesses.
One neighbour described the incident as “really distressing” and an unnecessary escalation of break-ins that have been occurring in the area for more than a year.
Kyle Nielson said police response to incidents in which her home has been aggressively targeted – with break-in attempts as recently as June – has been less than satisfactory, to the point she felt police were ignoring evidence such as fingerprints.
“It’s just very, very, very upsetting that this street has been preyed on and then something like this has to happen,” Nielson said.
“She could’ve been killed. This should not be happening.”
The suspect is described as a 20- to 30-year-old man, about five-foot-eight to six feet tall.
Police expect to release a more detailed description once the victim is able to provide a “more fulsome” statement.
Cpl. Scotty Schumann cautioned those in the area to “be aware of your personal and home security.”
Asked if the crime may be linked to an Aug. 1 incident in which two intruders entered a residence in the 13200-block of Marine Drive while an elderly woman was home, Schumann said no connections have been made to other incidents “at this point.”
“There’s a lot of information that we do know but we’re not releasing it all because it could affect the investigation,” he said.
Officers with Surrey RCMP’s Serious Crime Unit and the Lower Mainland District Forensic Identification Team are working on the latest file.
Anyone who saw anything suspicious – even if it seemed insignificant – is asked to call police at 604-599-0502 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.