Businesses on edge after NC assault |

Businesses on edge after NC assault

As soon as Laura Thorne heard about a chilling assault early Wednesday morning at a nearby Nevada City business, she had a long, hard talk with her employees.

Like many in the usually-quiet Seven Hills Business District, the owner of Way Yum Sushi on Argall Way is rethinking security for the women who open up the building to prepare sushi in the pre-dawn hours. All doors must be locked, she said; members of neighboring businesses also have stopped by to check on things.

“We need to be keeping an eye out,” Thorne said. “We all need to be here for each other.”

A woman was opening a business on the 500 block of Searls Avenue at about 4:15 a.m. Wednesday when a man grabbed her from behind and carried her to a wooded area in the back of the building, police said.

After he threw her to the ground, the woman told police she lost consciousness, and her attacker was gone when she came to. It was not clear whether the victim had been sexually assaulted.

Police collected “a ton of forensic evidence” from the crime, according to Sgt. Paul Rohde. That has been forwarded to the Department Justice for analysis.

The assault suspect was described as having a foul body odor.

Meanwhile, Nevada City Police are following up on some leads that have come in since the incident.

“We’re going to do everything we can to find him,” Rohde said.

Many of the businesses in the vicinity of the crime are owned or operated by women, and they open early. Spooked by the assault, business owners are stepping up precautions.

“You owe it to your employees to lock them in,” said John Henry Hanses, who owns a salon on Argall Way. “I’d never allow a woman to open. They’re just too easy of targets.”

“There are a lot of people walking around, and they ask if they can do work around the business,” said Nicole Kopel, an employee at S.O.A.P., an Argall Way business that re-fills empty bottles with soaps and detergents.

Encounters have been polite, but the business plans to hire another employee so nobody is alone during the day, Kopel added.

Police advised residents to be extra careful – even in a place like Nevada City.

“For anybody that works early morning, be aware of your surroundings, and don’t hesitate to call the police,” Rohde said.

To contact Staff Writer Michelle Rindels, e-mail or call (530) 477-4247.

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