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Anti-Stalking Tips

November 12, 1996|DENISE SIINO

Anyone who suspects he or she is being stalked should notify the local police agency immediately and ask to speak with someone knowledgeable about stalking. Additional information is available from the Victim Witness program, (714) 935-7956, and its 24-hour phone line, (714) 973-0134. Following are measures police typically advise:

* Obtain a restraining order and keep it current.

* Avoid all contact with the suspect.

* Keep a record of all harassing behavior by the suspected stalker--log dates and times of telephone calls, physical confrontation, pursuits and contact with colleagues, friends or family members. Report to the police.

* Notify police immediately of any crimes committed, even if you aren't sure the stalker is at fault.

* Get an unlisted telephone number.

* Have home address information removed from personal checks and business cards.

* Place real property in a trust, and list utilities under the name of the trust.

* File for confidential voter status, or register using a mailbox address.

* Vary your route and schedule to familiar places. Know the locations of busy shopping centers, police and fire stations along the way. If followed, drive to the nearest such location.

* Follow basic safety strategies to secure your home--keep all doors and windows locked, etc.

* If possible, install a fence around your property. Keep gates locked at all times.

* Install motion-detector lights at a height that would discourage removal and exterior alarms that can be manually activated from several locations.

* Notify employer of your situation. Allow other employees to receive and screen your phone calls, deliveries and visitors.

* Have your name removed from any reserved parking areas.

* If there is on-site security, provide them with a physical description of your suspected stalker. Ask for an escort to and from your car.

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The Laws * California: Any person who willingly, maliciously and repeatedly follows or harasses another person and who makes a credible threat to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family, is guilty of the crime of stalking. The stalker need only imply a threat by a pattern of conduct; the victim does not have to prove that the stalker actually intends to carry it out. The investigator can submit many penal code violations together in order to prove a pattern of conduct, regardless of time frame or location of the violation. The law, which took effect Jan. 1, 1991, has since been amended. A conviction with no restraining order in place calls for a sentence of no more than one year in county jail; if a restraining order is in effect, the sentence can be up to four years in county jail or state prison.

* Federal: Congress adopted legislation this year making it a felony for a stalker to pursue someone into another state, even if there is not a court order against the stalker in that state. Signed into law Sept. 23, 1996. The law mandates a five-year sentence, 20 years if an injury occurs. If death results, the guilty person will receive a sentence of life in prison.

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