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Posted on: January 2, 2018

Stalking Awareness Month

Stalking Awareness graphic

Since 2004, January has been observed as National Stalking Awareness Month. Stalking is defined by the U.S. Department of Justice as “a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.”

The Apache Junction Police Department would like to promote awareness of this criminal behavior in order to get victims the help that they need. If you know of someone who is a victim of stalking, encourage them to report it.

There were 87 domestic violence reports recorded in 2017 in the city of Apache Junction. Although stalking is not reported very often by victims, some form of this crime is prevalent in the majority of domestic abuse cases, according to Meagan MacCleary, sexual violence services coordinator for the Community Alliance Against Family Abuse, which provides services to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

MacCleary recommends that people protect themselves against this type of controlling behavior, which often occurs in the places we frequent the most and through the electronic devices that we use to communicate.

  • Check for tracking devices in your home, car and workplace. These can be easily obtained and put in many places.
  • Protect yourself on the internet
  • Make your personal accounts private
  • Disable locator services/global positioning satellite on your cell phone
  • Be aware that texting and using social media such as Snapchat and Facebook have methods of tracking your location

Under Arizona law, stalking is a class 5 felony when a person fears that they or someone they are close to will be harmed or if the victim’s property will be damaged. It is a more serious (class 3) felony if a person fears death for them, someone they have been in a close relationship with, or someone from the victim’s household.

Harassment, a form of stalking, is a class 1 misdemeanor for:

  • Continuing to follow someone in a public place after being asked to stop
  • Surveilling or causing someone to surveil someone for no legitimate purpose
  • Using the mail, a phone, in person, email or other means to harass another
  • Making a false report to police or social services in order to harass someone
  • Interfering with the public utilities of another

The National Center for Victims of Crime (www.ncvc.org/src) says, “It’s not a joke. It’s not romantic. It’s not OK. STOP STALKING. It’s a crime.”

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