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Crime of Stalking

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 25 Issue: 6 Dated: June 1998 Pages: 34-37
S Wexler
Date Published
4 pages
Stalking may consist of acts that are not a crime when considered individually but that become criminal in relation to the context in which they occur, and intervening early in stalking cases can prevent tragedies from happening.
While antistalking statutes vary by jurisdiction, most define stalking as a course of conduct that places a reasonable person in fear for his or her safety. Most crimes consist of a single act, but stalking involves a pattern of conduct or a collection of two or more individual acts. Depending on the stalker, the conduct may consist of calling someone repeatedly, sending threatening letters, or following the victim. Stalkers come from every walk of life and socioeconomic background, but most stalkers are men. About 60 percent of stalked women are stalked by spouses, former spouses, live-in partners, or dates, while 70 percent of stalked men are stalked by acquaintances or strangers. Some psychologists believe stalking is a throwback to the instinctive predatory behavior of prehistoric man. Others explain it as a form of psychiatric illness, while still others describe it as the action of an emotionally and spiritually bankrupt person. Unlike other criminal behavior such as rape or homicide, there is no single psychological profile for stalkers. Most police departments assign stalking cases to domestic violence units or detectives. In Los Angeles, a specialized unit known as the Threat Management Unit has been created to investigate stalking cases. In Long Island, New York, police officers are making a battery-operated device known as CAPER (Criminal Apprehension Provided by Electronic Response) available to victims of stalking and domestic violence. In general, domestic violence experts stress the importance of early intervention in stalking cases because antistalking laws, restraining orders, and the police can only accomplish so much. 3 photographs


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