Thomas Walker (Santa Ana Police Department / August 15, 2013)

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Costa Mesa police Thursday said they have identified a suspect in a sexual assault and an attempted sexual assault in two home invasions earlier this year.

They say they believe Thomas Walker, a 46-year-old transient, sexually assaulted a woman at knifepoint and attempted to sexually assault another in two incidents less than a month apart in Costa Mesa.

Walker has a long criminal background, police said, but had been out of jail on Post-Release Community Supervision (PCS) at the time of the alleged crimes in January and February.

The program is part of California’s “realignment plan,” which shifts some inmates from state prisons to county jails to ease overcrowding.

PCS puts nonviolent and nonserious offenders eligible for parole under the supervision of county authorities instead of state parole officials.

Walker is now in Orange County Jail, according to police.

He was arrested by the Santa Ana Police Department and charged with burglary and drug-related crimes Feb. 27, two weeks after he allegedly sexually assaulted a woman in Costa Mesa, according to a new release from the CMPD.

In that incident, Walker allegedly entered an apartment at Valencia Street near La Salle Avenue and threatened an 18-year-old woman with a small knife, telling her not to yell. Police say he then sexually assaulted the victim and fled on foot.

About four hours later, a crime-scene investigator thought he saw Walker in the area, but the suspect was able to escape while residents chased him, police said.

Less than a month earlier, on Jan. 27, Walker allegedly entered an apartment on Mendoza Drive near Mission Drive through an unlocked sliding-glass door and attempted to sexually assault a 32-year-old woman before he fled.

Some of Walker’s previous run-ins with the law include a felony conviction for burglary as well as guilty pleas on drug charges and a felony charge of stalking, according to Orange County Superior Court records.

Costa Mesa police requested that the Orange County district attorney charge Walker with burglary, assault with intent to commit rape, forced oral copulation and false imprisonment.