WEST ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOV) – Police say a man who has been hugging various women at different businesses throughout the St. Louis area was identified as a sex offender.
A police source told News 4 the man is a sex offender “from way back.”
Police said a woman was shopping at the Des Peres, Missouri Schnucks store on June 12 when was approached by a man who claimed to know her. After a brief conversation, she asked for a hug. She obliged, but later contacted police.
The victim identified the man in a photo line-up Des Peres police put together Tuesday afternoon.
Police say they’ve heard of two more incidents at the same store and at least one more similar incident in Fairview Heights, Illinois.
“We just have an individual who is approaching women inside the grocery store and acting like he knows them from their old neighborhood. He carries on a conversation. He’s pretty convincing and he culminates it with trying to get a birthday hug. He tells them it’s his 44th birthday and he’d like a hug and that’s it,” said Captain Charles Milano.
Fairview Heights Police say a woman was approached in the Schnucks parking lot on June 13. She reportedly denied the man a hug and called police.
Des Peres police said they took 15 calls on Tuesday about the guy hugging woman in various cities over the past several years.
Police consulted the prosecuting attorney to confirm that no crime was committed. Police say charges might not be filed because man never groped or assaulted the women. Still, police want to talk to the man to confirm he’s harmless.
His identity will not be released unless charges are filed.
Police described the suspect as white man between the ages of 30 and 40. He’s about 5 feet 6 inches tall and 170 pounds. He may be driving a silver Nissan sedan.
Schnucks provided surveillance video of the Des Peres encounter to police. Police haven’t released the video to the public.
Police said there was no evidence the man actually knew any personal information about the women or was stalking them. They say the encounters appear to be random. It’s possible the man truly believes he’s acquainted with the women, but police won’t know until they identify him and talk to him, explained Milano.
“We’d just like to know, really, what his motives are.”