A 23-year-old Arlington woman was sexually assaulted Wednesday in the parking garage attached to Ballston Common Mall, police said today.
At about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, the woman was walking to her car on the fourth level of the garage after shopping at the mall, police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said. The garage is located at 655 N. Glebe Road.
She was within a few feet of her vehicle when an unknown man approached her from behind and sexually assaulted her with his hands, Sternbeck said.
The woman screamed, and the man fled down a stairwell in the northeast corner of the garage.
The woman got into her vehicle, drove out of the garage, parked on the street and then called police, Sternbeck said.
The woman refused medical treatment following the attack, he said.
Investigators have been unable to identify any witnesses, Sternbeck said.
The attacker is described as a 17- to 25-year-old man about 6 feet tall and weighing 150 pounds. Sternbeck described him as "pretty slim," though police do not have enough information to produce a sketch of the suspect.
The man was wearing a light-colored T-shirt, dark baggy pants and a black knit hat at the time of the attack, Sternbeck said.
Arlington has seen a noticeable increase in sexual assaults and indecent exposure cases in recent months.
Sternbeck reiterated basic safety tips for residents to keep in mind — try to avoid traveling alone, particularly at night, and be aware of your surroundings, even if that means only listening to your iPod with one earbud. Also, trust your instincts and call police immediately after witnessing or being the victim of a crime.
"Don't get caught in that mentality, that trap, that this could not happen to me," Sternbeck said. "Because we're seeing this in several locations across the county, and it's not happening to one specific kind of victim."