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Peeping Tom incidents scare women in West Palm Beach

Posted at 2:56 PM, Aug 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-24 21:17:29-04

Hunted in their own homes, victims of voyeurism say just one incident makes them too afraid to go outside and too afraid to stay behind locked doors.

In West Palm Beach, women are noticing a new trend in the crime. Some peeping Toms they say want you to know they are watching.

Security measures like alarms systems have not stopped at least one man from peering into women’s bedrooms across the city, according to several women who have documented peeping Tom reports over the last 18 months.

Jeanette Hickman lives in Northwood and say she was once targeted by a man who wouldn’t just peer into her bedroom window: he would tap on the glass to let her know he was there.

“The hairs on my arms would go up. I would just freeze like I was prey being hunted,” Hickman told Contact 5 Investigative Reporter Merris Badcock.

The first few times she heard the tapping sound, Hickman second guessed her instincts, attributing the sound to an animal or the wind. However, one night, she heard the sound and saw something she hadn’t seen before.

“I saw a shadow of a person walking away,” she said. “That is the night I called the police.”

Hickman says a peeping Tom is one thing, “but someone who draws attention to themselves by tapping and making themselves known? That’s scary,” she said.

After her shadow incident, Hickman installed motion sensor lights and a hunting camera.

“I wanted this guy caught in the act!”

With the help of her landlord and neighbor, she was able to get the job done in just a few days.

“My neighbor bought a camera on a Tuesday, and installed it on Wednesday. Thursday morning I woke up to a phone call saying, ‘Jeanette, I caught the guy. I have photos of the guy.’”

It was the first time in months Hickman says she felt vindicated. “I started yelling, ‘I wasn’t crazy! There is someone in our yard tapping on our window!’”

Hickman joined Nextdoor, a social network for neighbors, to alert others. She found out she was not the only recent victim.

“I probably had three to four people message me saying, ‘can you send me the picture? I want to see if this is the same guy.’”

In the last 18 months, West Palm Beach Police have had at least 35 calls for a prowler on personal property.

(Scroll down to see the most recent prowler reports in your West Palm Beach neighborhood.)

Contact 5 investigators found one 911 call just ten blocks south of Hickman where a woman reported a recurring peeping Tom at her window.

The most recent peeping Tom incident we found happened just a few weeks ago, about ten blocks north of Hickman’s home.

However, police say many more incidents never get called in. According to some of the Nextdoor posts we found, women admit they never called the cops.

Additionally, even if peeping Toms get called in, police say they often times gets lumped into other categories like attempted burglary since voyeurism is only a misdemeanor crime.

Police were not able to say if all the recent incidents are connected, and they have not made an arrest in Hickman’s case.

However, since Hickman installed her lights and camera, her peeping Tom has not returned.

Nevertheless, Hickman says every time she hears a tapping sound, she jumps.