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Increasing concerns of men in Southwest Florida following, photographing women in public

Posted at 8:53 PM, Sep 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-28 07:15:10-04

A number of incidents have been reported recently in Southwest Florida by women who say that men have been following them - and in some cases, photographing them. 

Last week, a woman reported that she - and a small group of people with her - were being followed by a man at Jaycee Park in Cape Coral. She said he was taking pictures of them, and even followed them in his vehicle after they left the park, continuing to photograph them in their vehicle on Del Prado Boulevard.

"We get a lot of strange people coming through this park," said Charlie, a man who lives near the park. "I think if they see something like that happening, they should confront the person and say 'hey, what's that about, why are you doing it?'"

Earlier this week, Erica Lopez told Fox 4 that a strange man was following her in the Target store at the Forum in Fort Myers. She was so concerned that she alerted security.

"Obviously they're smart enough to know to go somewhere that young women tend to go," Lopez said.

Other women have posted on social media about similar experiences of being followed by men at a Target store in Cape Coral, with one man taking photos of women.

Police managed to track the man down, but say that he wasn't doing anything illegal since there's no expectation of privacy in a public place.

"Yes, he can take those photos," said Sgt. Allan Kolak of the Cape Coral Police Department. "It was expressed to him that it's not a good idea, especially when you're singling out individuals and taking their photos. It does give that 'creep' effect."

Kolak said that while the man's actions weren't necessarily illegal, people should still report a person following or photographing them to the police - especially if they're photographing children.

"Of course we'd like to be notified immediately, because if this person has been designated as a sexual offender or child predator, that's going to be part of their conditions: that they cannot take pictures of children," Kolak said.

Kolak added that anyone who feels threatened by someone following them should get a clear mental picture of them, in order to give police a good description. He also suggested trying to get a photograph of the suspicious person.