In the fictional world of crime writing, stalkers make noteable characters. Their activities are obsessive, freaky, and often downright frightening, which creates and builds tension throughout a novel. But in the real world, a stalker’s motivations and actions are harassing, dangerous, and too often deadly.
With technological advancements continually upgrading, stalkers have increasingly new ways to make their victims’ lives more miserable than ever. There are countless programs and avenues for criminals to explore and use.
He can monitor his victim’s computer programs.
She can use a program that hides her own phone number and displays another’s on her victim’s Caller ID. And disguises her voice so even those closest to her won’t recognize it.
He can remotely access his victim’s voicemail, ensuring she doesn’t receive her messages. But he does.
She can send an anonymous email to cover that she is the one who is actually sending it.
He can post inflammatory, false, or enticing information about his victim that includes her name, address, phone numbers, and email address on a social network, which in turn causes her to receive harassing messages, sometimes visits, from strangers.
She can “friend” her victim’s family, friends, and other contacts on social networks to get personal information about her. And use it in insidious ways.
He can download a program on her phone that allows him to set up an account for himself to access her information and track her. Tip: only let people you completely trust borrow your phone to “make a quick call.”
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, “Protect Yourself From Computer Hackers,” it is very easy to hack into someone’s home computer and see what the eye of the camera is looking at. A slick, sick way to obtain an insider’s information about someone. Cover the eye of your computer camera.
I am currently working on the sixth book of the Winnebago County Mystery Series, and in the subplot one of the deputies, burly Vince Weber is a victim of stalking.
So what can you do if you know, or suspect, you are being targeted in this kind of abusive activity? Report it to the police. And preserve any evidence you have. If you get an unsettling phone call or email, do not delete it, as you may want to do. Sometimes it takes a person a while, and a number of incidents, before she recognizes she is being harassed. Save any suspicious message you receive. And if there are more messages, a pattern is emerging, and helps the police develop a case.
More and more stalking cases are being successfully uncovered and prosecuted. Stalking can lead to serious and tragic outcomes if the offender is not caught and stopped. Stay safe.
Christine Husom is the author of the Winnebago County Mystery Series.