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Iowa City officials point to sub-leasing precautions following alleged kidnap-sexual assault

BY JORDYN REILAND | APRIL 02, 2012 6:30 AM

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Police and realty officials stressed the need for precaution when looking to rent and sublet following an alleged sexual assault during an apartment showing last weekend.

According to a press release from Iowa City police, officers responded to a reported sexual assault on West Benton Street on March 29 at approximately 8:17 p.m.

There, the alleged victim told police she had made arrangements with an unknown male over the phone to show her apartment for a sublet agreement, the release said.

The victim was showing the apartment to the male when he allegedly locked a bedroom door and tried to tie her hands behind her back.

The release said the victim attempted to speak to him, but he put a towel in her mouth and assaulted her. Before leaving the apartment, he allegedly took sexually explicit photos of the the female and threatened to put them on the Internet if she told the police.

Officers later arrested 21-year-old Iowa City resident Peng Tang following an investigation and charged him with first-degree kidnapping, the report said.

First-degree kidnapping is considered a Class-A felony, with a maximum punishment of life in prison.

Iowa City police Lt. Bill Campbell said cases like this can occur when people are informally renting to others in college towns.

"If you're going to show an apartment, you'd want to have someone else there," Campbell said.

According to the Iowa City police annual report, seven kidnapping/abduction charges occurred in 2011. This was a two-person increase from the year before, and it stayed within the relative range during the last five years.

Local officials say letting someone know who may look at your apartment and when are important precautions.

"What I always do is have someone else know that I am showing a home, whom I am showing it to, and where I will be," said Mark Kamps, the broker and owner of Coldwell Banker Real Estate Professionals in Iowa City.

Kamps also said women in particular should have someone with them when showing any property.

"My advice would be in a situation when it's a stranger coming into your home, I would encourage anyone to have another person there with you," he said.

Citing this incident, Kamps stressed the importance of keeping the person viewing the space in front of you at all times.

"Don't let the person that you are showing it to park you in [your driveway]," he said. "Always keep them in front of you, and keep the door between them and you."

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign police Sgt. Matt Ballinger agreed, adding their department puts on safety presentations throughout the year to keep students informed and aware of the precautions to take when renting or subletting spaces.


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