POLICE have warned residents to lock their doors and be on their guard after a man held a woman prisoner at knife point in her own home during a horrific two hour sex attack in West Lothian.
Detectives say the 39-year-old victim has been left “seriously traumatised” by the incident that happened around 5am on Saturday in the Deans area of Livingston.
They said the assailant, described as being around 6ft tall with short dark hair and “chunky” sideburns, may have first tried to get into other homes, even ringing doorbells to do so.
Eventually he gained access to the victim’s home in Oakwood Park through what Lothian and Borders Police described as an unsecured door.
He threatened the woman and others in the house before sexually assaulting her, only fleeing at around 7am.
Police had not yet stated who or what ages the others in the house were during the time of the ordeal.
Lothian and Borders Police said they have now stepped up patrols in the area and were carrying out door to door inquiries, promising their “full resources” would be deployed to find the attacker.
But a spokesman warned: “At this time we would like to take the opportunity to warn residents to keep their homes properly secured and report any concerns they have to the police.”
Only last month the L&B force launched a dedicated five strong task force – Operation Federal – to head up investigations on all such sex attacks in the county, the first unit of its kind in Scotland.
Established by Detective Chief Inspector Alan Crawford, officers in the unit are led by Detective Sergeant John Philip, liaising with groups such as rape crises and domestic violence teams.
Saturday’s attack is expected to be among the first tests for the unit which is specifically aimed at dealing with sex crimes “robustly”.
A police spokesman said: “This attack has left the victim seriously traumatized and we are devoting our full resources towards identifying and tracing the suspect as soon as possible.
“We are appealing for anyone who was in the area of Oakwood Park in the early hours of Saturday morning who noticed any suspicious activity to contact police.
“It is possible that the suspect may have tested other properties in the area before the attack took place, either by ringing doorbells or testing for insecure doors.
“Anyone who heard their doorbell being rung, or heard any suspicious noises outside their property in the early hours of the morning should contact police.
“Similarly, anyone who thinks they have seen the suspect, either before or since the attack took place, should also get in touch as a matter or urgency.”
The 6ft tall attacker was also said to have been wearing a cream coloured ‘hoodie’ style top with a distinctive logo across the chest and a large pouch, blue joggers and a baseball hat, covering his short brown hair and chunky sideburns.
Anyone with information was asked o contact police on 0131 311 3131 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
The spokesman added: “We are conducting high visibility uniformed patrols in order to provide reassurance to local residents.”