Shocking moment couple are PEPPER-SPRAYED by random attacker as they walk down NYC sidewalk as violence surges

THIS is the shocking moment a man brazenly pepper-sprayed a couple as they strolled through New York City in an unprovoked attack.

It comes as cops in the city continue to battle with surging numbers of violent crimes.

Footage shows a man and woman walking down a Manhattan sidewalk chatting as a complete stranger heads towards them.

As he passes them, the man lifts his arm and points a can in their faces before unleashing pepper spray as he carries on walking.

Surveillance video shows the victims, aged 18 and 19, grab their faces after being hit by the powerful irritant – often used by riot police.

The man and woman were treated for redness and swelling to their eyes, cops say, after the suspect fled.

Police are now hunting for the man following the random attack shortly before 10pm last Tuesday on Eighth Avenue between West 15th and 16th streets in Chelsea.

Anyone with information about him is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).

It comes amid a tremendous spike in hate crimes in the city compared to last year, especially against Asian people.

The NYPD saw a spike of over 400 per cent of reported hate crimes against those of Asian descent, up to 80 crimes compared to 16 reported a year prior.

Overall, the city has seen a hate crime increase of 73 per cent compared to this time last year.

Just on Saturday, a woman, 27, was walking through Midtown Manhattan at around 7am when a man approached her from behind and grabbed her by her throat with both hands, cops say.

The man then shoved her against a storefront gate on East 33rd Street near Madison Avenue before pulling down his pants, according to police.

He attempted to rape her, but she fought him off and managed to break free of his grip, the NYPD said.

Meanwhile, a homeless man who was filmed smacking an Asian woman in the face had recently been released back onto the streets despite eight arrests in the past year.

Alexander Wright, 48, was arrested following the unprovoked attack and charged with assault, assault as a hate crime and possession of a controlled substance.

In another incident, a brute sucker-punched an elderly Asian woman.

The 75-year-old victim was left with a broken nose, fractured eye socket, and two black eyes.

Only days before, an "angry" mob assaulted two Jewish teenagers after they refused to yell anti-Semitic phrases like "kill all the Jews."

The group surrounded the pair, aged 17 and 18, before repeatedly punching them in the head in Brooklyn.

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