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Cazenovia village police still seeking leads on ‘Exercise Stalker’

— Cazenovia village police have been inundated with calls in recent days about the so-called “Exercise Stalker” prowling village streets, following women and girls as they jog or bike. And while police have plenty of leads in the case, they have yet to determine the seriousness of the threat since no one has reported actually being attacked.

“There are several leads on a smaller orange Ford Focus,” Police Chief Michael Hayes told the village board at its Oct. 3 meeting. But he indicated he had also received calls on a white Ford Explorer and a black pickup truck. The challenge, he said, is determining whether it is an amorous young male who doesn’t know how to show his affection, or something more malevolent.

“If it’s a more malevolent focus, then we need to make sure they’re not more organized,” he said.

Since news broke about the vehicle stalkings in Cazenovia — originally reported by the Cazenovia Republican in its Oct. 2 issue and subsequently picked up by other local news outlets — the police department has been inundated with calls reporting similar activities. Hayes said 20 calls were received on Monday afternoon alone. Some of the calls were reporting strange activity dating back to June.

Mayor Kurt Wheeler strongly urged the chief to get to the bottom of it quickly. “The bottom line is, you have people that are afraid to go out and exercise,” he said.

Hayes said that if people see something strange, they need to report it as quickly as possible — either by calling 911 or the village police at 655-3276. Following up on leads that are weeks or months old is a challenge.

Hayes indicated he would like to put extra patrols on the road until this threat is resolved, but because the department is down three crossing guards, the people who would normally be out on these extra patrols are guiding children to school.

Jason Emerson contributed to this report. David Tyler is the publisher of Eagle newspapers. He can be reached at dtyler@eaglenewsonline.com.

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