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Neighborhood on alert after rape

Lauren Payan's route to the bus stop on her way to work puts her in the footsteps of the 15-year-old girl who was raped Tuesday along Osteen Road.

"I'm still scared," said Payan, 25. "I have Mace in my pocketbook just in case."

The road here is two lanes with a strip of brush on one side. Behind the brush is an empty lot littered with discarded fencing, concrete, dirt and auto parts.

On the other side of Osteen, just north of Massachusetts Avenue, are side streets that lead into neighborhoods.

Payan gets on the county bus at the same stop the teenager was headed to before she was dragged to the side of the road Tuesday morning. With one eye to the woods, Payan walked the street alone again Wednesday.

"That could have been me," she said. "What if that girl didn't come down the block and he waited?"

The attacker had not been arrested Wednesday afternoon, though Pasco sheriff's officials said more than 80 tips had come in.

"We'd just like to thank the public for providing any information they have and encourage them to continue to do so if they could," spokesman Doug Tobin said. Detectives hope the motorcycle description _ an older model, silver and black _ might help.

"It was a foggy morning about 7:15, kind of an unusual time to be using that mode of transportation," Tobin said. "That might spark a memory of someone who may have seen that individual."

A sheriff's patrol car cruised the area as kids got off the school bus Wednesday afternoon.

Jennifer D'Alvia stood in her yard watching the kids and her own 15-year-old son, who was already home.

"I usually watch from the window," she said. "But I think it's important that somebody is visible now."

Tuesday's victim described her attacker as a Hispanic man, from 25 to 30 years old. He is about 5 feet 8 inches tall and 160 pounds, with a medium build, dark skin, a smooth complexion, black eyes and shoulder-length black hair pulled into a ponytail. He was wearing a white T-shirt, black cotton pants, and white and blue New Balance sneakers.

Steve Thompson covers crime in Pasco County. He can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6245, or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245. His e-mail address is sthompsonsptimes.com.

GOT A TIP?

Anyone with information is asked to call sheriff's Detective Bobby Hamm toll free at 1-800-854-2862, ext. 7446.

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