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On alert for stranger danger | Marlborough community rallies to support abduction victim with safety tips, lessons

Whistles were left on car windshields in the Big Y parking lot to remind people to be aware of their surroundings.

MARLBOROUGH, Conn. — State police are closer than ever to apprehending two suspects in the abduction and possible hate crime of a 64-year-old woman. At the same time, the community is stepping up to support that victim, even days later.

On Thursday, somebody was going around the Big Y parking lot from where the woman was abducted putting whistles on windshields and reminding shoppers of stranger danger and to say something if they see something.

"I’m a little scared. I don’t really want to come here at night anymore," said Natasha Setschinsky of Colchester.

RELATED: Community comes together to support woman abducted at Big Y in Marlborough; police looking at possible hate crime

Sarah Fede of East Hampton said, "It’s shocking because just moving here, I always thought Marlborough and this area was a very safe place, and hearing that this happened to a poor older woman going to stop and shop kind of puts you on edge."

But rather than staying frozen in fear, residents are rallying to help.

"We knew as soon as this happened that we needed to do what we do best," Melissa Jordan of Marlborough said.

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Jordan put out the call for a meal train and within minutes it was full. Residents volunteered to cook for the victim and her family. Meals will be dropped off at the local senior center three times a week until Christmas.

"We figured what better way to get the community involved than to provide meals in their time of need," she said.

RELATED: Marlborough residents react to shocking abduction at Big Y

Other residents have committed to making homemade knitted blankets, while some businesses are offering their services.

"I can offer my knowledge and services to everybody," said Michael Hwang, who owns Hwang’s Tae Kwon-Do studio across from the street where the abduction happened.

 He’s offering a free self-defense class for women.

"At 65, there are things you can do to protect yourself," he said. "The human body is vulnerable. It's just about exploiting vulnerabilities and using people's force against them. You don’t have to be strong to hurt someone."

RELATED: Police release images of suspects in woman's abduction from Big Y parking lot in Marlborough

For that 64-year-old woman, the emotional wounds may take longer to heal than the physical ones.

The woman was abducted with a bag over her head, taken to the DND Food Mart in East Hartford where the two suspects were caught on camera, then she was dumped in Berlin and her car set on fire.

"I don’t know how I would have reacted if it had happened to me or my wife," Ed Kozlowski of Colchester said. "And especially to take advantage of a woman who is 64 years old. I'm surprised she got off without being injured more than she was."

In addition to the food train and the free self-defense classes, there will also be a lemonade stand set up this Saturday on Planeta Road where the proceeds will be donated to the victim.

FOX61 has been told by sources close to the family that the woman is out of the hospital but has a long road to recovery.

Matt Caron is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at mcaron@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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