Police Search for Scripps Ranch Flashing Suspect

An unknown suspect has allegedly exposed himself at two parks in the Scripps Ranch area

By Monica Garske and Lauren Steussy
|  Friday, Aug 24, 2012  |  Updated 10:22 PM PDT
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Police Search for Scripps Ranch Flashing Suspect

DMV

NBC 7 searched DMV records to get the name of the registered owner of the car police say was at the scene. He is Thomas Michael Benhoff, age 56.

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Police Search for Scripps Ranch Flashing Suspect

Parents in the Scripps Ranch community are concerned after a registered sex offender was seen in the area.
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San Diego police are searching for a man accused of publicly exposing himself at two parks in the Scripps Ranch area over the past week.

Authorities said the most recent incident happened Wednesday around 6:30 p.m. at the Scripps Ranch Community Park on Blue Cypress Drive.

Police said the suspect was lying in the bushes while allegedly masturbating and making noises. He was in plain view of children nearby.

Three young girls saw the suspect and left the park. One girl told her father about the man, and the parent then notified police.

Police arrived at the park minutes later, but the suspect had already fled the scene.

A short time later citizens called police from Spring Canyon Park on Scripps Poway Parkway and reported a suspicious man in the area matching the description of the alleged suspect from Scripps Ranch Community Park. However, police were unable to locate the suspect at that time.

According to police, witnesses say the suspect is driving a White Honda in poor condition with California license plates 6PBX815. Police also confirm the owner of that vehicle is a registered sex offender.

NBC 7 searched DMV records to get the name of the registered owner. He is Thomas Michael Benhoff, age 56 (right). 

Investigators have learned the suspect was also seen by children at Spring Canyon Park last week. Police said the suspect was seen on August 15 lying in the bushes and making animal noises.

A couple of parents at Spring Canyon Park that evening noticed the man acting suspiciously and reported his license plate and vehicle description to police.

Benhoff remains a person of interest but has not been arrested.

Authorities have not confirmed if the two indecent exposure incidents in Scripps Ranch are related, but said there is a chance the suspect in both cases in the same person.

Police described the flashing suspect as a white male, 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-2, weighing 190 to 200-pounds. He was seen wearing a white button-down shirt, yellow or khaki shorts and a cowboy or floppy hat.

A suspect with a similar description linked to the same vehicle was seen in La Jolla exposing himself to children at a recreation camp in November 2011. Police said that case is still open and may also be related to these recent flashing incidents.

The SDPD issued an alert to the neighborhood watches in Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos and Scripps Ranch.

"Our neighborhood parks are for residents and kids and families -- not for sex deviants to get their jollies off in our parks," said Bob Ilko with the Scripps Ranch Civic Association.

As of Tuesday morning, detectives did not have any updates and had made no arrests.

Witnesses who may have seen the suspect at either part are urged to contact police at 858-538-8000.

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