Two Peeping Tom incidents were brought to the attention of students in late April, and now as summer begins, Fort Collins Police Services Deputy Chief Cory Christensen said that similar suspicious activity typically occurs when weather is warm.
Because invasions of privacy, or Peeping Tom incidents, are a “crime of opportunity,” according to Christensen, they are more likely to occur when doors and windows are open or unlocked.
“It’s also weather-related — if it’s raining a lot, they’re not out. If it’s snowing, they’re not out,” Christensen said.
According to Christensen, Peeping Tom cases are fairly rare, but occur in short bursts of activity.
“A Peeping Tom is a sexually-related behavior, so once they think they’re going to be caught, they stop for a while, or they relocate to another area,” Christensen said. “What we’ll usually do is get batches of them, (so then) we’ll apply pressure to the area through increased patrols, increased awareness. Sometimes we’ll catch someone, sometimes we don’t, and the behavior will then stop for a period of time.”
After Fort Collins Police Services received two reports of suspicious activity in the area north of Colorado State University’s campus April 20, CSU Public Safety sent out an email detailing the precautions that students can take to protect themselves.
Both incidents are believed to have involved the same suspect, who is described as “being in his 20s with dirty blonde hair and scruffy facial hair, and wearing a black hooded jacket and khaki pants,” according to Public Safety’s release. In the first incident, the man was on a roof, staring through a window at a woman who was working on a computer. In the the second, a woman woke up to find the man standing over her bed.
Although the incidents did not occur on CSU’s campus, the campus itself is equipped to protect its students from similar situations.
“While not downplaying the two incidents that occurred off campus not long ago, it is helpful to note there have not been any similar incidents reported on campus in quite some time,” CSU Police Chief Scott Harris wrote in an email to the Collegian. “CSUPD provides coverage on campus 24/7. This includes bike, vehicle and foot patrols of all campus property. Officers patrol inside and around buildings, including residence halls. In most instances, once an officer receives a call, they can respond and arrive anyplace on campus within two to three minutes.”
The women affected by the recent incidents were not touched by the suspect, but an important concern when approaching similar incidents, according to the Women and Gender Advocacy Center director, is ensuring that survivors of sexual assault are not triggered.
“What we know is that encounters such as the ones recently reported can be triggering for survivors,” Sisneros wrote in an email to the Collegian. “That’s always a concern for us, and we are always ready to sit down with a student to support them and figure out individual ways that will support when they need.”
Sisneros also emphasized the importance of bystander interventions when suspicious activity occurs, including intervening on a situation that appears to be non-consensual.
Christensen offered suggestions for those concerned over the incidents, including locking doors and windows and pulling blinds.
For more information about safety resources available to students, visit safety.colostate.edu.
Collegian Reporter Ellie Mulder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @lemarie.