- Stalking is a criminal offence and can be potentially dangerous if not appropriately handled on time.
- Knowing the signs of stalking behavior by your neighbor would help in knowing when to escalate the matter to the appropriate authorities. Read on to find out what the worrying signs your neighbor is stalking you are.
- We also give you helpful tips on what to do once you see these worrying signs. Read on to find out what they are.
What is stalking?
Stalking is a form of harassment and unwanted attention where the person stalking you makes it their mission to spy on you and collect information about you without your permission. It is an intrusive invasion of privacy that could potentially become dangerous because it is never clear what the motive of stalkers are.
According to a worrying statistic seen from the Office For Victims of Crime and shown below, as high as 85% of male stalkers stalked women while as high as 62% of women were victims of being stalked by their intimate partner.
Some stalking facts to be aware of (U.S., 2018) Source: Office For Victims of Crime
Stalking is a criminal offence, although the specific content of each anti-stalking law differs from State to State. In the specific context of a stalking neighbor which this article deals with, you shouldn’t have to put up with your neighbor’s stalking harassment because it could get out of hand.
To help you out, in this article, we will show you 13 signs your neighbor is stalking you, as well as what you can do about it. We also answer some specific stalking questions in the Frequently asked questions section which would be worthwhile checking out too.
Check out this related article on Gift ideas for helpful neighbor.
13 Signs your neighbor is stalking, harassing you.
When it comes to the signs and traits of a stalker, the chart below, also gotten from the Office For Victims of Crime, does a good job of showing the traits of stalkers and what their usual mode of operation is.
Lifetime estimates of tactics used by stalkers as a percentage of stalking victims(U.S., 2018). Source: Office For Victims of Crime
In the specific context of stalking by a neighbor, they will show you most or all of these 13 signs.
1. Always showing up in places you frequent one time too many.
This happens in extreme stalking cases. If you notice that your neighbor always happens to be in the same coffee shop or supermarket you shop at the same time you’re there, it is worth paying attention to. Or maybe it could be a park where you normally take a run by, or somewhere where you wouldn’t think too much about. When it happens once, you can put this to coincidence. If it however becomes a regular occurrence then it is very likely your neighbor is stalking you.
2. Leaving unwanted gifts on your front door without a name or finding unwanted items or gifts in your mail.
The gift items would usually vary depending on what their disturbing fantasy conjures up at the time they send it.
3. You occasionally catch them monitoring your movement from their window.
Does it feel like a pair of eyes are always staring down at you when you leave your house? If you stole a glance at their window, you might just catch them peeping at you from the blinds.
With this sign though, sometimes it could just be your neighbor being nosy rather than them being a stalking neighbor. Some neighbors are known to do this just to check out the new neighbors for instance to see what kind of people the new neighbors might be.
With this sign, therefore, taken in isolation, it does not always follow that your neighbor is a stalker. Your neighbor would have to couple this peeping with one or more of the other intrusive signs listed in this article for it to qualify as stalking.
4. Driving by or hanging around your house.
With driving by your house, it would only be a normal thing if they need to drive by your house to get to theirs, or if the road leading to your house is the only road. If they would need to go out of their way to drive in the direction of your house, then that would be a source for concern.
Does it also happen that whenever you step out of your door, you find them hanging around your house and acting busy? If this happens more than once and always at the time when you leave the house, then it is more likely than not that you have a stalking neighbor.
5. They like dropping by unannounced even after you’ve made it clear that you do not enjoy unannounced visits.
This habit is also a harassing act and completely unacceptable. With this behavior, you have all the power because without opening the door, they will not invade your space. So, the next time they show up unannounced, you would be well within your right to choose not to answer the door until they get tired of ringing the bell and leave.
It is best not to answer the door than to try to come out and speak to them harshly. And the reason for this is that you don’t know their temperament or disposition, and especially whether they are given to violence.
If they are given to violence, coming out to speak to them would only antagonize them and might endanger you.
If they become too persistent and violent, immediately call 911 and report the issue.
6. You almost always bump into them too close to your house on your way out of your house or as you about going inside.
The time when you bump into them too close to your house will tell you if you are dealing with a stalking neighbor. If they are always around your house at the exact moment when you step out of the house, or at the exact time when you are driving in, then your neighbor is stalking you. It means they have monitored your schedule and know exactly when you leave your house and when you come back.
7. Your mail feels like it’s been tampered with.
When you pick up your mail, does it feel like someone already opened it before you did? Pay close attention to your mails if you get this feeling and watch your mailbox closely.
8. They are stalking you on social media.
They may start trolling you on social media just to see what you are up to and with who. In some bad cases, they may use a pseudonym and send you very disturbing messages in your inbox. And where they use a pseudonym you will need to engage the services of IT experts to help you identify the real identity behind the account so that you have something more than just speculation.
9. They hang around your garbage area.
Extreme stalkers also do this. What they hope to achieve is to go through your garbage to see if they can find items that would give me more information about you. It could be a mail you threw out or anything else their sick mind decides to look for.
10. They tell you information about yourself that they shouldn’t know about and which you never told them about.
You could be having a conversation with them and they suddenly tell you something about yourself which you are sure you never told them. This is another worrying sign that they are stalking and spying on you without your knowledge.
11. When you get home, there are visible signs that someone tried to and did get into your house in your absence.
You can usually tell when something feels off in your house when you come in. You can also usually sense when someone else invaded your space. If you get this feeling most of the time you enter your house, it is most likely the case that someone is stalking you and gaining access into your house.
While it will be difficult to say with certainty that it is likely one of your neighbors, it is a possibility you cannot rule out. In such cases, take the steps listed in the next section.
12. They are always staring at you every time you cast a glance in their direction.
When you walk out your door, you find them outside and they keep staring blankly at you. Not only is this very creepy and unsettling, but it also borders on harassment.
13. They always stand too close for comfort when they are around you even when you try to keep a distance between you.
Stalkers normally do this because they don’t want you getting away from them and they want to make you very uncomfortable. Where this happens and you are uncomfortable, immediately let them know that you do not appreciate the distance between you and would want them to take a step back. If they still do not budge, do not engage further with them and walk away quickly for your safety.
You may also like this article on Warning signs of a double life.
What to do with a neighbor who is stalking, harassing you – 12 Helpful Tips.
Victims of stalking are never at ease. They are always on edge. According to a survey seen on Office For Victims of Crime (and shown below), as much as 62% of stalking victims feared that their stalkers would harm either them or their loved ones. 46% said they had a fear of the unknown because they never knew what would happen next and what tactic their oppressor would adopt.
Fears reported by stalking victims (U.S., 2018). Source: Office For Victims of Crime
You shouldn’t have to be made to live in such mortal fear and anxiety. Once you notice more than two of these worrying signs, it is important to take the following steps.
1. Write down everything they do and take pictures if you can.
The evidence is important for when you eventually lodge a complaint because stalking complaints are usually not taken too seriously if there are no concrete specifics to the complaint. Write down each occurrence with the date and time when it happened.
Say, for instance, you were coming out of your apartment and checked the environment from your window to see if there was anyone around and you found no one. And all of a sudden, as soon as you opened your door, there was your stalking neighbor around the corner. Immediately write that down. If they also stared at you, write that down. Together with the times when each occurrence took place.
If for instance, you feel that they are tampering with your locks, take a before picture of the areas you suspect they enter from and then an after picture if you notice a difference. If you get unwanted mail, store them up.
2. Where you get unwanted mail, it might be useful to not pick it with your hands but rather a glove.
This is because the person who left it might have been careless to leave their fingerprints on it. Using gloves would ensure your fingerprints do not get muddled up with it. This may make it easier to track the person who dropped it off when you eventually report the issue to the police with the mail as evidence.
3. Change your locks.
This one is especially important if you suspect they are tampering with your locks.
4. Have the outside of your house well lit.
This would help in ensuring that any suspicious movement or activity outside your house is seen and the face captured easily.
5. Lock your windows and all entry doors at all times, both when indoors and when you leave the house.
This is another helpful tip if you suspect they break into your house. And if you stay alone, then it becomes all the more imperative to take this safety measure when you are indoors.
6. Inform your neighbors of the concerns you have.
They would also help you keep an eye out for suspicious movement and the likes. You can also specifically request that they help you be on the lookout when you are not around.
7. As much as possible try to be in the company of someone else when around this neighbor, especially if you feel they might be dangerous.
Seeing you in the company of someone else would usually deter them from approaching.
8. Install cameras by the doors and window areas if you can afford to do so.
This would help you monitor the house when you are not around. Some cameras allow you to connect with your phone and monitor the situation in real-time even when you are not physically present.
9. Vary your schedule.
Stalkers thrive on your predictability. Knowing your exact schedule and knowing that you will stick with it, is what gives them their power. It is also what they bank on. So, if you know that your stalker knows you come back at 6 p.m. for instance, take them by surprise and show up at 4 p.m. And because they were not expecting you, it will catch them off guard and chances are that you won’t find them hanging around your house at 4 p.m. because they didn’t know you would drastically change your schedule in that way.
10. Take note of how frequently their stalking actions happen.
Once it happens more than twice, consider reporting the matter to law enforcement, like the police. The chart below from the Office For Victims of Crime paints a picture of what law enforcement usually does. And while it is not all encouraging, it does show that they will take your report and follow it up right away.
Actions taken by law enforcement against stalkers (U.S., 2018). Source: Office For Victims of Crime
11. Seek legal counsel.
After reporting to law enforcement, consider the services of a lawyer who is well versed in anti-stalking laws. The lawyer would advise you on what the laws in your State provide for, as well as the best route to take for maximum protection.
12. And finally, when all else fails, you may have to consider moving houses especially if their actions become persistent and troubling.
It sounds unfair, frustrating, and inconvenient, but remember that at the end of the day there is no price tag for safety and peace of mind.
Frequently asked questions.
1. I think my neighbor is a stalker, what should I do?
You need to be absolutely certain that they are indeed stalkers. Watch their action against the 13 signs listed in this article. If they consistently display most of the signs in this article then you can be sure that they are stalking you. Quickly put in place most or all of the 12 measures listed in the last section of this article.
2. Are neighbors spying on you a sign of stalking?
It depends on what kind of spying they are doing. If they are simply peeping at you from their blinds across the street and not doing anything else, it could just be a nosy neighbor. This would not be stalking or a source for concern.
But, if they are doing more than that and going to the lengths listed in this article in their quest to spy on you, then yes it is a sign of stalking.
3. I think there is a stalker looking through a window at me, what should I do?
Unless they are doing more than looking through the window at you, you don’t need to do anything. Just ignore them and keep going your way. They are most likely just a nosy neighbor.
4. I have harassing neighbors, what to do?
If their harassment is beyond the usual disturbances that neighbors occasionally cause (such as having their dog always barking), then consider reporting the matter to the authorities.
5. My neighbor is stalking me, what should I do?
Check their actions to see that they fit that of a stalker. And if their actions are that of a stalker, then take the 12 measures listed in this article.
6. My neighbor is watching me, should I be worried?
If the only thing they are doing is watching you and nothing else, then it is nothing to be worried about. They could just be a nosy neighbor. However, if they take it beyond watching you to engage in any of the other signs listed in this article, then it becomes a source for concern. You should then take the 12 measures listed in the last section of this article.
7. My neighbor is a stalker, what can I do?
If their actions qualify as stalking when judged against the 13 signs listed in this article, then take the 12 measures listed in this article to guarantee your safety.
8. I have a creepy neighbor who watches me, what can I do?
Ignore them if all they do is to watch you. But if they take it a step further and invade your privacy and space, then get law enforcement involved without delay.
9. My neighbor keeps looking at me, is this a cause for concern?
Your neighbor could just be a nosy neighbor or just socially awkward. If they are simply just looking at you all the time, it is not a cause for concern.
10. My neighbor watches my every move, should I be worried?
It can be rather unnerving to have someone watch your every move. If this becomes intrusive and unsettling, take the 12 steps listed in this article.
11. My neighbor always stares at me, is this something to be worried about?
Some people just stare at other people without meaning any harm. If all your neighbor does is stare without more, then it is not something to be worried about.
One will never understand the motive for stalkers and why they do what they do. Every stalker has their motive, but it is not for you to find out since it does not in any way justify their actions.
Stalkers can become rather dangerous to the people they stalk. And because of this high-risk possibility, it is always advisable to take safety precautions as soon as you notice anyone around you displaying stalker tendencies. Take the 12 steps listed in this article once you pick up on more than 2 of the 13 stalking signs listed in this article.
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