Bellingham Police hope to shed some light on latest string of voyeurism reports

Tree leaves and the weather are not the only things to change in Whatcom County during the fall. In case you haven’t noticed, the time it gets dark each night keeps getting earlier and earlier.

As Bellingham saw in the fall of 2017, less daylight creates opportunity for voyeurs and other potential criminals who like to work under the cover of darkness.

Over the weekend, according to a Facebook post Sunday night by the Bellingham Police Department, “at least four” incidents of prowlers “lurking outside windows” were reported near Laurel Park and Western Washington University.

According to the police log, the first report came in at 11:05 p.m. Friday, after a resident heard noises outside that sounded like someone was prowling around. Two other voyeurism reports were made early Saturday at 2:55 a.m. and 4:24 a.m. in the 600 and 1200 blocks of Garden Street, including one when a victim reported seeing a dark figure peering in through her living room window. The fourth report came in at 1:13 a.m. Sunday from a resident in the 700 block of High Street.

“The advice we have is the same advice we had for the same type of cases last year,” Lt. Claudia Murphy said, including:

Closing, locking and covering windows, especially those on the first floor.

Turning on outside lights to deter people from creeping close to the house and being able to hide while watching through windows.

Calling the police immediately when you see someone looking into a window, but do not go outside to investigate.

Do not contaminate the scene after you see somebody outside. Police will want to collect any evidence left behind and possibly use a K-9 to assist in locating the person.

The Facebook post, which reiterated the need to turn on outside lights, included a video of an officer searching for a suspect from over the weekend and how dark the neighborhood can be without outside lighting, “making it very easy for this person to move about conducting nefarious business,” Murphy said.

Sunday’s announcement to leave on the lights falls in line with the department’s #9pmroutine Twitter campaign, which started earlier this summer, reminding Bellingham residents nightly at 9 to get in the habit of removing items from their cars, closing and locking doors and turning on exterior lighting to help reduce crime. Murphy said the campaign will continue for “several more nights to come.”

Bellingham Police are investigating a report of lewd conduct in the York neighborhood, at least the eighth possibly related incident of voyeurism this year. A Bellingham Herald reader sent this audio recording from a police scanner.