Imagine answering the door and finding police officers on your front step. They ask if you called about someone taking pictures through your windows, and then leave without giving you any information.
“We were freaked out and confused, thinking, ‘Is there someone watching us?’” said sophomore Abby Rohlfing.
On Sept. 27, Rohlfing and her three roommates, Daniah Al-Midfa, Nyssa Achtyes and Ashli Meyer, experienced this frightening scenario. The next day, their neighbor explained that she had seen someone looking into Rohlfing’s bedroom and taking photographs the night before. The neighbor called the St. Paul Police Department, and officers came to Rohlfing’s house to investigate.
“My neighbor thought that this had probably been going on for at least a week before that,” Rohlfing said. “She had noticed that her chair was missing like four nights of the week and it would turn up against this little shed under my window.”
The neighbor saw the prowler jump off the shed onto the chair and run away on Sept. 27. She was able to provide a description of the prowler and said the suspect is a tall, athletic, Caucasian male between the ages of 20 and 30 with short dark hair and a very distinct hairline.
He has been identified twice, but there have been three instances of window peeping in that neighborhood. Tenants of the apartment building next to Rohlfing’s home have noticed cinder blocks and rocks outside their windows, and another neighbor stepped out of the shower one night and saw someone with a video camera looking into her window.
The four women have taken several precautions since the incident. They have covered all their windows with garbage bags or sheets and they leave outside lights on, walk in groups and carefully check the locks each time they leave their house.
“It’s been frustrating,” Al-Midfa said. “We shouldn’t have to live in fear.”
St. Thomas Public Safety has been very responsive to the situation, the four women said. Public Safety offered to drive them home at night, send extra patrols to the area and make sure no one is in their house when they get home. Public Safety has also issued advisories around campus to inform students.
Twin Cities newspapers and television stations have covered the incidents, and KARE 11, KSTP and KMSP interviewed Rohlfing, Al-Midfa, Achtyes and Meyer.
“We are hoping all the media coverage will scare him away,” Al-Midfa said.
Maggie Clemensen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.