DETECTIVES today revealed that a stranger who raped a teenager in her own home could have been stalking his victim for weeks.

The 18-year-old woman was attacked by a man who knocked on the front door and forced his way into her home in Blackburn Road, Great Harwood, at about 9pm on Saturday.

And today police said their inquiry had revealed that a man matching the description of the rapist had been seen in the area around the victim's house several times in the last month.

Police are now warning women to be on their guard following the incident in Great Harwood and a second unrelated sex attack in Sandringham Road, Darwen, 24 hours before when a 32-year-old woman was enticed onto waste ground and attacked.

Det Chief Inspector Ian Kennedy, who is leading the inquiry into the Great Harwood rape, said they had spoken to several people who reported seeing a man similar to the victim's description of her attacker.

He added: "We have had reports from several members of the public that a man matching the description we have of the attacker has been hanging around by the victim's house over the last three or four weeks. We believe he may have been watching her or making himself accustomed to her movements.

"We will be continuing our investigations over the next few days and carrying out door to door inquiries in the area.

"We would certainly advise women not to be out alone or to answer the door to strangers late at night."

The attack happened after the woman, who lives with her family, had walked home from work in the town.

Detectives were today continuing to interview the victim who described her attacker as white, in his 30s, between 5ft 7in and 5ft 10in, with a tanned complexion, "number two" shaved haircut, wearing a black bubble jacket and dark blue jeans.

The Darwen attack happened as the woman returned home after a trip to Lynwood Wines in Blackburn Road at about 9pm on Friday to buy some washing powder.

After hearing someone in distress on nearby waste ground she was pounced on by a man who pushed her against a car and assaulted her before running off.

He was described as white, 5ft 10in, with dark, neat short hair and wearing a pale blue shirt. He had rough hands, long finger nails and full, thick lips.

Mr Habib Khan of Lynwood Wines said the attack had made him worry about the safety of his own family.

He said: "The first time I heard about it was when the police contacted me."

Mr Khan who has run the shop for the past five years said: "It's terrible that something like this could happen in this area, this kind of thing is unheard of -- it makes me worry about my own family."

Mr Khan added that a lot of elderly people lived in the area and they would be very shocked about the attack.

Anyone with information about either incident is asked to ring Great Harwood CID on 01254 353341, Darwen CID on 01254 353830 or Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555 111.