One woman said she sleeps with a croquet mallet, and another is afraid to let her dog out at night. A couple said they plan to take a self-defense class.
Four weeks after the last of seven home invasions in Kings Point and Great Neck, some residents remain unnerved. They declined to give their names, on edge about drawing attention while police have yet to make an arrest.
"We've tracked down every single tip that we've had and nothing has generated any leads," said Nassau County Det. Sgt. Michael Fitzmaurice.
Since late November, a man linked to violent attacks in Hempstead and Texas entered or tried to enter the homes on the Great Neck peninsula and, in some cases, confronted or assaulted women and girls. Each time, the suspect eluded police in patrol cars, in the air, and on foot with K9 units, Nassau police said. The last incident occurred Jan. 19.
"He gets away each time," said Marsha Rotman, president of the Kings Point Civic Association. "I don't know if he's here or not here."
Rotman and more than 40 area residents met Wednesday night with local and county law enforcement officials, as well as a home-security consultant.
"The children are talking about it in the elementary school," one parent said. "There is a lot of fear and unrest."
The pattern of attacks don't mirror typical home invasions, police said. Each of the Great Neck and Kings Point incidents have been voyeuristic.
"Usually when you have a home invasion, the people are targeted" for specific reasons, Fitzmaurice said. "He's not doing that. He's just looking in windows to see what he wants. It seems to be people, not money."
The string of incidents began with a Nov. 30 attempt to get into a house and escalated Dec. 12, when a man broke into the room of a 15-year-old girl and held a wet rag to her face before she fought him off. Three days later, a man broke into or attempted to break into three different houses in the same night. In one case, a 63-year-old woman fought him off, despite having a knife held to her throat.
Police have said they believe the same man is responsible for all of the attacks and may live in the area.
"We want to know . . . why somebody so obvious, with so many clues, lives in Kings Point, and creates so much terror has not been caught," said Ed Victory, a Kings Point resident for 11 years. "We all have young children and we are used to living in a safe neighborhood."
Nassau police said DNA tests linked the suspect, described as 5-foot-2 with a lean build and dark hair, to a July hammer attack in Hempstead that left a woman with neurological damage, and the rape and kidnapping of a toddler in Texas in 2009. In the Great Neck and Kings Point incidents, the man fled after he was sighted or victims fought back.
Police have handed out more than 3,000 "wanted" fliers, interviewed possible suspects, taken nearly a dozen DNA samples and handed over two people they questioned to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement when they were found to be in the United States illegally, Fitzmaurice said. Nassau police also have contacted police in Suffolk and New York City looking for similar crimes.
Police advised residents to continue to report suspicious behavior, keep outdoor lights on, lock doors and windows, and set alarms.