There is a human predatory sub-type called ‘the stalker’. These are angry, often sociopathic, deluded and outright creepy individuals who, through a variety of devious means, successfully intimidate, threaten and otherwise torment the object of their attention.
Fortunately, anti-stalking legislation exists to deal with stalkers but the tricky part is catching them. By it’s very definition, stalking behaviour is planned, covert and cunning and here lies the problem for those subjected to stalking. The onus is on the victim to prove they are being harassed. It’s not sufficient to rock up to your local police station and report someone for stalking. The likely response will be a polite ‘come back with some evidence and we’ll see what we can do’.
Proving stalking can be extremely difficult, particularly so if the stalker is cunning enough to a. ensure their actions are not consistent or predictable; b. leave no physical evidence that could lead back to them and c. make no obvious threats to harm person or property.
And not only do you need proof, but in Queensland you need proof of more than one instance unless the behaviour is drawn out – such as ongoing surveillance or repeated phone calls.
If your stalker is being particularly cunning, it may seem like a hopeless situation. But there are things you can do to stay safe while increasing your chances of not only catching them out, but helping police secure a conviction at some stage.
Keep a diary. Note down dates, times and particulars of any disturbing instances that cause you apprehension and fear. Even if you can’t prove who the perpetrator is yet, diary notes will be invaluable later on if the stalker is caught and you need to link them to previous instances of stalking behaviour.
Take date stamped photographs of any vandalism or property damage and, most importantly, report it to police, no matter how small.
Even if they are sent anonymously, keep all emails, text messages, letters, voicemail messages and other electronic communications from the stalker. These will be invaluable pieces of evidence further down the track. Each email contains IP information which can lead investigators to the location of the stalker, so emails should be kept in your inbox and not deleted.
Let your neighbours know you’re being stalked so that they will be more alert to any suspicious activity in the neighbourhood or vicinity of your home.
Take note of registration numbers of suspicious vehicles.
If you’re being followed or intimidated in public, carry a hidden camera. These come in a range of disguises from imitation car key chains to pens and watches. Most hidden camera’s automatically date and time stamp your footage. A good quality hidden camera can be purchased online or hired from Investigative Services companies like ours for a small weekly fee. Their batteries can be easily recharged while you’re in the car via a USB and battery life can lengthy depending on the quality of the unit you buy.
If the stalker is a peeping Tom or your home is being broken into or vandalised, invest in discrete security cameras mounted around the perimeter of the property. These can also be hired and installed on a temporary basis for you if you’re renting or don’t want to spend thousands on a permanent set-up. Covert cameras are a better bet than overt camera’s if your aim is not simply to deter but to catch the stalker once and for all.
Hire a licensed investigator to conduct surveillance on the suspected stalker. Private Investigators are trained to gather evidence that will help to prove stalking behaviour. Surveillance is particularly useful if you know who the stalker is and if they are physically following you or watching your home on a regular basis.
Stay Safe. This should probably be at the top of the to-do list because, while you want to catch the perpetrator, it’s important to make safety a priority. If you’re being stalked, chances are the behaviour of the stalker will get more brazen and dangerous as time goes on. On the positive side, sooner or later, the perpetrator will slip up and you’ll be ready when they do, but it’s vital to ensure that you don’t compromise your safety in the mission to catch them out.
Don’t respond to emails or text messages except to let your stalker know that you wish them to cease contacting you and that you will contact police if they contact you again. This need only be done once. Do not get drawn into communicating with them further. Typically, stalkers are doing what they do in order to get your attention. If you respond to emails or communicate with them, you’re only going to encourage their behaviour. Tell them once to stop and then ignore them.
Listen to Cloak Investigations interview the Queensland Police with regards to stalking. follow this link to listen to the PODCAST
For more information about anti-stalking laws and what constitues stalking in Qld go to Qld Criminal Code Chapter 33A Unlawful Stalking