PHOENIX - Police are putting extra patrols on the streets near schools in south Phoenix after a serial rapist has attacked three girls since November.
"The safety and security of our children is paramount," said Phoenix police Sgt. Wayne Dillon.
Investigators tell ABC15 the first attack happened in November when a 10-year-old girl from Conchos Elementary School was raped by the suspect inside a vacant home.
Two months later, police said DNA linked the man to a second attack involving a 12-year-old girl from Davis Elementary School. She was raped inside the same vacant home near 16th and Southern avenues.
Detectives now believe the same man also raped a 17-year-old girl walking to South Mountain High School on Monday morning near 7th Street and Carson.
"Even one time is too many, but three is off the charts and this guy needs to be taken off the streets before it ever happens again," said Dillon.
On Tuesday, extra officers started patrolling schools in the area before and after school.
"In particular situations like this where they're children in danger we absolutely feel that it's of utmost importance to have as many patrol units out in the neighborhoods," said Dillon.
Police only have a vague description of the suspect. He is described as a black man, 20 to 21 years old, with short hair and a slim build. Dillon admits the limited information can be frustrating.
"I think the hardest part is knowing that he's out there and the fact that he could be close and we are close as well, and that we don't know it's him and not being able to put our hands on him and put him in jail," said Dillon.
South Mountain High School principal Alvin Watson tells ABC15 he talked with the most recent victim's father shortly after the attack.
"It was tough. It was tough sitting there talking to him. I said we'll do whatever we can here at the school," said Watson.
After hearing about the latest attack, Watson said some students have come up to him worried it could happen to them.
"A couple of the students were concerned about when they leave in the evenings going home what precautions should they take," said Watson.
Watson sent a letter home with students on Tuesday encouraging them to walk in groups, be aware of their surroundings, and to take well-traveled routes to school.
The Roosevelt School District will host a community meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 28, at Greenfield Elementary School, 7009 S. 10th Street.
Cmdr. Chris Crockett from the South Mountain Police Precinct and Councilman Michael Johnson will both attend.