NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police are trying to identify a suspect wanted for a sex assault and robbery in the West Village.

It happened around 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 3 in the area of West 12th Street and Greenwich Avenue.

READ MORE: 2nd Former Aide Accuses Gov. Andrew Cuomo Of Sexual Harassment, Governor Requests Independent Review

Police said a man was seen following a 23-year-old woman for several blocks from the West 4th Street subway station, as she was on her way home from a local club.

He knocked on her door pretending to be a neighbor — saying he smelled smoke and asking if something was burning, police said.

After she let him inside to look around, he announced, “You should not have let me in,” according to police. That’s when he slapped and choked the victim, took off her clothes and sexually assaulted her, police said.

He then took her cellphone and $250 and fled, police said. The woman was treated and released at an area hospital.

As CBS2’s Steve Langford reported, the attack has left area residents on edge.

READ MORE: NYPD: Good Samaritan Killed, 3 Hurt In Stabbing Linked To Illegal Brooklyn Gambling Den

“It’s kind of surprising, and this really feels like a particularly safe neighborhood in the city,” said Kristi Molinaro, who works down the block from the crime scene.

“Things are worse in this world for women than they’ve ever been, and when I think about it, I start tearing up,” neighbor Lorraine Marx Singer told CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco.

While Marx Singer, a longtime resident, said she still feels safe in the neighborhood, others worry it may be a false sense of security.

“The city has gotten safer and safer over the years, but I do think the last couple of years, it’s gone backwards a little bit,” Molinaro said.

Police have released a surveillance photo and sketch of the suspect. He is described as a white man in his 20s, about 6 feet tall with black hair and brown eyes.

MORE NEWS: Nassau County Executive Laura Curran Exposed To Positive COVID-19 Case, Will Quarantine
A surveillance photo and police sketch of a suspect wanted for a sex assault in the West Village on Jan. 3, 2016. (credit: NYPD)

A surveillance photo and police sketch of a suspect wanted for a sex assault in the West Village on Jan. 3, 2016. (credit: NYPD)

Anyone with is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.