Five voyeurism cases have been reported to the Bellingham Police Department since Sept. 9, and detectives are now asking for help identifying a sketch of the subject that was developed from a description given during the investigation of one the most recent cases.
In a press release late Wednesday, the city of Bellingham released the sketch of the white man, who is believed to be 20 to 30 years old with a slender build, dark hair and seen many times wearing a hooded sweatshirt. Anyone with information about the identity of the person in the sketch is asked to call Detective Sue Howell at 360-778-8682 or submit a tip online at cob.org/services/safety/police/reporting/Pages/police-tips.aspx.
Police received 15 reports of voyeurism between July and December 2017, according to the press release, all centered on an eight-square block area in the York neighborhood near Laurel Park, both of which are a short distance from Western Washington University. Four additional reports were received early this year, but the past five incidents — all of which police say are similar in nature to the reports in 2017 — have come within the past two and a half weeks.
The suspect has been caught peering into windows while holding a flashlight or cell phone up, the release said, and several victims reported the suspect exposing himself or masturbating.
Bellingham Police remind anyone who becomes aware of a stranger looking into their window to immediately call 911.
“We do not recommend going outside to call out to, chase or otherwise engage the suspect,” the release said. “Make the call to 911 and, if it can be safely done from inside the house, watch which way the suspect runs.”
According to the release, voyeurism cases have historically been under reported, due in part to victims not wanting to bother law enforcement or not being sure of what just happened.
“However, voyeurism is a serious crime — it has the potential for the suspect to get more and more daring, thereby increasing the danger level for future victims,” the press release said.
If you believe you are a victim of an unreported voyeurism incident this year, police ask you call 911 or the station officer at 360-778-8800.
Police also suggest the following safeguards to protect your home from a voyeur:
▪ Close and lock all windows.
▪ Close curtains and tilt blinds to an angle to prevent viewing from outside.
▪ Turn off inside lights.
▪ Turn on porch lights.
Western Washington University also sent out a campus-wide alert, making sure students and staff are aware of the voyeur’s presence near the school.
WWU also said in the alert that it has increased its safety emphasis during patrols and night on and near campus and asked students who observed suspicious behavior to call University Police at 360-650-3911 or make anonymous reports at 360-650-7233.
The school also encouraged message recipients to review crime prevention information and person safety tips on the University Police website and consider using the university’s public safety assistants, or “Greencoats,” who are available to escort students, staff and visitors to enhance safety during evenings.