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Stalking the Stalker : Fighting Back with High-tech Gadgets and Low-tech Know-how
Stalking the Stalker : Fighting Back with High-tech Gadgets and Low-tech Know-how

What to do if Stalked: Increading Personal Safety


Attention homeowners with garage door openers! Did you know that almost anyone can open your garage door? All they have to do is visit the local hardware store and shell out about $30 for a replacement opener. In one experiment, a local TV news program was able to open 10 garage doors in 45 minutes simply by driving around and clicking the open button! This is because people tend to use the factory default codes - meaning that any remote with the factory setting will open YOUR door unless you change the settings. If you need help, visit your local hardware store or police or sheriff's office for help in selecting a random code.

Suggestions of what to do if stalked are listed below. Every situation is different, so there are no set guidelines. Use your own judgment as to what actions to take. Keep in mind that your best defense is a good, comprehensive safety plan.

Make sure you have communicated a definate "NO" to the stalker, not just brushed them off. Then end all communication with them.

Report to your local police department that you are a victim of stalking, whether or not you plan to file formal charges. Ask the department to increase patrols in your area. Many police departments these days are using the "Community Oriented Policing" model. What this means for you is: they use the same officers in the same areas so that the officers can really get to know what's happening and who's who in their areas. Use this to your advantage! Get to know the officers who patrol both your neighborhood and the area where you work. Having a good rapport with them and making sure that they are kept up to date on what's happening is worth more than your own weight in gold. Not only will those officers be extra careful about staying visible in patrols around your neighborhood, the simple fact that they're around more often means greater chance of them encountering your stalker on their own, and not having to wait for you to call saying "hey, my stalker is parked in front of my house". Don't ever feel like you are being a "pest". Don't blow off contacting law enforcement about each and every contact from your stalker, whether in person, by phone, by mail, by instant message or any other means.

Carefully consider a restraining order, as this is a response to the stalker and you have no way of knowing who will and who won't obey the order (or who will be "set off" to escalate their attempts or violence in reaction). First ask your local cop to sit down and discuss the specifics of your case. If you know who the stalker is, the cop will check out their criminal background. This can be important information to help make your decision about getting a restraining order or not - especially if your stalker has a violent past.

Then talk to your local domestic violence program (you can find it here.) Even if your stalker isn't a spouse, ex, boy/girlfriend, roommate etc., they are an EXCELLENT resource that you should never overlook. They have people who can help you sort thru the pros and cons of your situation and can assist with safety planning. They may know of local programs to help get lighting, security systems, deadbolts and other services for free.

Make sure your friends, family and employer are aware of the situation. The more eyes watching your back, the safer you will be. If you have security personnel at your work, subdivision or apartment complex, make sure they are aware that you are being stalked and give them a photo of the individual. Ask them to call the police immediately if the person is seen in the area.

Disposeable Cameras Disposeable cameras for under $5.00 are great for documenting a stalker's actions. Keep one handy at home, at your job, in your car or in your purse and snap pictures - making sure to take a note of when and where. A photograph is worth 1,000 words - especially to a jury! Make sure that you write the location, date and time on the back of each photo. If you already have police involvement, do things a little differently. Take your new camera and take a photo of the front page of the newspaper for that day to "date" the camera (any pics on the roll have to have occurred on or after that day). If you later get pics of your stalker on that roll, don't develop it - turn it over to the police and let THEM develop it. This procedure will often stand up in court much better and the chain of evidence documentation will be much stronger in your favor.

Help build a case against the stalker
  • Gather documentation (personal journal or diary) of the stalker's activities. You can use these log pages to track your stalking situation

  • Taped recording(s) of threatening telephone calls. Check the front of your phonebook for laws regarding taped phone conversations or call the phone company and ask what you can or can't do and how.

  • Write down identifying information (i.e. license plate number, make of car, personal appearance).

  • List all contacts with the stalker (i.e. date, time, place, what was said, letters/calls received).

Take precautions:
  • Have your local law enforcement agency do a security check on your home. It costs nothing and can provide valuable information about weak spots or dangers, point out possible places for someone to hide, etc.

  • BE ALERT and aware of your surroundings, the people and things happening around you.

  • VARY ROUTES of travel when you come and go from work or home.

  • PARK SECURELY and in well-lit areas. Ask someone to escort you to your car.

  • BE AWARE of vehicles following you. If you are followed drive to a police station, fire department, or busy shopping center and sound the horn to attract attention.

  • MAINTAIN AN UNLISTED and UNPUBLISHED NUMBER. If Caller ID is available in your area, obtain the service for your phone. Put your work number on your checks instead of your home number. Also find out if your phone company has COMPLETE BLOCK service which will prevent your number from showing up to people that you call.

  • GUARD PERSONAL INFORMATION, never give out personal information to anyone where the information can be overheard. Remove phone number and social security number from as many items as possible.

  • DEVELOP A SAFETY PLAN for yourself and family members in case of emergency. Decide on a safe place to meet and someone to call if problems do arise.
Maintain Privacy:
  • USE A PO BOX. Residential addresses of post office box holders are generally confidential. However, the U.S. Postal Service will release a residential address to any government agency, or to persons serving court papers. The Post Office only requires verification from an attorney that a case is pending. This information is easily counterfeited. Private companies, such as Mail Boxes Etc., are more strict and will require that the person making the request have an original copy of a subpoena. Use your private post office box address for all of your correspondence. Print it on your checks instead of your residential address. Instead of recording the address as "Box 12345," use "unit 12345" or "apartment 12345". Some states have confidential address programs that you may be able to utilize. Check the resources on your state's page.

  • MAKE THE ADDRESS CHANGES. Give the private mail box address. Send personal letters to friends, relatives and businesses giving them the new private mailbox address. Give true residential address only to the most trusted friends. Ask that they do not store this address in rolodexes or address books which could be stolen.

  • FOLLOW UP WITH YOUR VARIOUS ACCESSIBLE RECORDS. Make sure you put the PO Box number on your drivers license. In some states you can do this easily. In others they'll want to see a copy of a police report (in otherwords you'll have to show a reason). If you're having difficulty, contact your local domestic violence program - they can give you the info and tips to get this done.
The Gift of Fear
The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence

I Know You Really Love Me
I Know You Really
Love Me

Surviving Stalking
Surviving Stalking

Partner Stalking: How Women Respond, Cope, And Survive
Partner Stalking: How Women Respond, Cope, And Survive

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Last Updated: March 16, 2011