Police could be battling an army of Gimp Men – amid fears the original rubber rotter spawned copycats.
The 6ft freaky fiend – clad head-to-toe in latex – has been terrifying villagers in Somerset for four years.
Last week police probing the sinister sightings arrested a man in his 30s on suspicion of causing a public nuisance.
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Now officers have revealed there may be more than one gimp on the prowl.
Insp Adam O’Loughlin said: "We’re keeping an open mind as to whether or not the person who was arrested last week is also the person who’s been involved in the other incidents that have occurred down the years."
He said officers were "determined to identify the individual or individuals" and stop them. Police are investigating up to 20 reported sightings of gimps in villages between Bristol and Weston-super-Mare since 2018.
In 2019, one victim managed to snap a picture of a man dressed in an all-black latex suit with a full-face mask while a woman saw a similarly-dressed man touching his groin in the street.
Last summer (2021), a bodysuit bounder crept through a young mum’s garden and peered through her window leaving her scared and her children suffering nightmares.
A few months later a couple watching TV spotted a masked man lying in their garden ogling them through the French doors. He fled after the householder chased him away and the police could not find him.
In June this year, teaching assistant Kiera Elston, 19, was left "absolutely terrified" after she was confronted by a gimp as she walked home through the village of Yatton with her boyfriend at 1am.
They ran off when the fetishist approached them with arms outstretched. Another victim said a gimp approached her "touching his groin, grunting and breathing heavy".
At 12.25am on October 27, Alex Warren, 19, and a pal stumbled on a gimp squirming and speaking in tongues on a patch of grass in nearby Cleeve. A police helicopter and squad car were scrambled resulting in a man’s arrest.
The suspect has been released on bail on condition that he does not leave his home between 9pm and 6am while officers probe if all the attacks were carried out by a lone gimp or a gang.
Insp O’Loughlin said: "From a community reassurance perspective it is important to say that nobody has been harmed by this person or anybody else who's behaved in this way over the years.
"I know that the community are very concerned about escalations.
"I'm fairly comfortable at this stage and that's not something I'm particularly worried about because we've seen no sign of that happening over the years.’"
He urged locals not to take a vigilante approach to the gimps after revellers chased one out of Yatton.
"A man who did this last year was chased by some members of the public," Insp O'Loughlin said.
"It's not for me, as a police officer, to pass judgement on what is and what isn't normal behaviour.
"We take the vulnerability of suspects very seriously.
"If there are issues in terms of this person's vulnerability we will identify that and ensure that we deal with him with that in mind.
"But I understand that this type of behaviour does cause a significant amount of concern. We would ask that people do not take the law into their own hands."
Villagers said the gimps’ antics had left women scared to go out at night.
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Susan Young, from Cleeve, said: "On the face of it I suppose people may find it funny. But if a man in a gimp suit leaps out at you late at night that's not amusing. It's incredibly frightening."
"Lots of young women have been scared of going out at night because of this."
Local shopkeeper Ronni Ogden said a newspaper delivery driver saw what he thought was an injured badger rolling around at the roadside but it turned out to be a gimp.
"He's a big fella and can look after himself but what really freaked him out was that he said he saw him get up from the ground without using his arms," she said.
"It just sort of emerged upright from the ground with no effort.
"He was shaking when he got here and told me what he'd seen.
"It may seem amusing to people from outside this area, but it's scaring people here."
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