Detectives from the Met’s South East Command Unit investigating sexual assaults have made an arrest.
A 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of rape in the early hours of Monday, 10 June.
While officers were out on increased patrols earlier that evening, they stopped and spoke to the man and took his details. After further enquiries, he was deemed a person of interest in the investigation and was subsequently arrested. He was taken to a south London police station where he remains in custody.
The arrest relates to two assaults, which are being formally linked, which happened in the early hours of Saturday, 9 March and the early hours of Sunday, 2 June.
A third offence happened in the early hours of Friday, 7 June. Officers retain an open mind as to whether this is linked to the earlier two incidents.
Police are continuing to appeal for witnesses and information.
Detective Chief Inspector Angela Craggs, who is leading the investigation, said: “Although we have made an arrest, we are still appealing information from the public.
“Our team are ensuring the welfare of the victims in each of these offences, and we have a well-resourced operation dedicated to locating whoever is responsible for these attacks.
“Stranger attacks are rare and we would like to urge people to be alert, but not alarmed. The attacks have been on lone women in the early hours of the morning and whilst we would not want people as a result of these incidents to change their route which may have a direct impact on their journey home or to or from work we would ask people to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to police.
“The first and second offences are being linked and it is possible that the attack on Friday, 7 June may also be linked.
“If you think you have information about any of the offences which could assist us, please do not delay in coming forward.
“Increased patrols are being carried out in the areas and we would urge anyone with concerns to speak to officers.
“We are also aware that there might be further victims who have not yet spoken to police; if you are a victim, or know someone who has been a victim of a sexual assault, I can assure you your information will be treated with strict confidence and sensitivity and we can also access specialist support where needed.”
Details of incidents:
At 04:30hrs on Saturday, 9 March, a woman, aged in her 50s, was on her way to work walking across Blackheath Common when she saw a man sitting on a bench. A bike was resting next to him. As she got closer to him, he got up and started walking towards her with the bike. As they got closer, he grabbed her and pushed her to the ground before he attempted to rape her. The suspect then cycled away and the victim was able to get to a place of safety and police were called.
At 02:00hrs on Saturday, 2 June, a woman in her 20s was attacked while walking along a footbridge near Tunnel Avenue, SE10. The victim described the suspect as carrying a large rucksack with a number of zips, which was possibly khaki or dark green in colour. She was raped before the suspect left the location a bike.
Police were called at 02:17hrs on Friday, 7 June to reports of an attempted rape in Margaret McMillan Park, on Glenville Grove, SE8. The victim, aged in her 40s, was walking through the park when she was grabbed from behind by an unknown man. The man attempted to rape the victim but she managed to push him off. He then stole some cash from her jacket pocket before making off towards Douglas Way.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the South East Safeguarding Team on 020 8284 8461, referencing Operation Ladoga. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
+ A man in his late 20s was arrested on Saturday, 8 June in connection with all three incidents and has been bailed pending further enquiries to a date in early July.