Stalking is an often-unreported crime, but some estimates suggest 7.5 million people in the U.S. are the victims of stalking each year.
In fact, when looking just at women, 1 in 6 — and that’s a conservative estimate — will be stalked at some point over the course of their life.
Using a wider definition, involving persistent behaviors that make victims uncomfortable or fearful, that number is closer to 1 in 4 women. In stalking cases, 80% of the victims are women.
Hannah worked as a cashier at a local supermarket and regularly interacted with the same customers who came by for their typical grocery shopping.
Hannah was in her 20’s, she was bubbly, polite, and friendly with all her customers. One particular customer, a male in his 30’s began coming through Hannah’s checkout line two or three times a day.
One day he waited for her outside in the parking lot after her shift ended. Hannah explained to the man that she had a boyfriend and she wasn’t interested, but that didn’t deter him.
One night, when Hannah came home from work, the man who was stalking her was parked outside her apartment building. According to Hannah, “I couldn’t sleep, I sat up all night with my phone, ready to call the police if he tried to get in.”
Another night when she arrived home from work, Hannah felt like someone had been inside her apartment.
The bed she had made in the morning had been laid in and her room smelled like men’s aftershave. Hannah called police and told them about the customer who had been watching her but the police told her there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him with a crime.
Hannah never returned to work at the supermarket, she found a new job where she didn’t interact with the public and she moved to a new apartment.
Her stalker has since left her alone as he probably moved on to a new victim whom he is terrorizing as well.
The reality is, these days it’s easy to find out where people live. Stalkers oftentimes follow their victims home and wait outside their house like the case of Hannah.
Or they will simply find your home address online and stake out your home, which can tell them a lot about your habits. For instance, is there a Pittsburg Steelers flag hanging outside? Are there kids toys in the yard? Or golf clubs in the garage?
My point is, just observing someone’s home from the outside can tell you a lot about them, which stalkers can use to torment their victims.
For this reason, I want to share with you how to remove your home from Google Maps, which is a popular website for mapping directions, that also shares pictures of specific addresses, including homes.
1) First, type in the web address www.Google.com/maps. In the top left corner of the screen there is a box that says, “search Google Maps.” In this box, type your exact home address such as 123 Main Street, Las Vegas, NV.
2) After finding your address, you should see a close up picture of your home on the left and an overview map of your home on the right of your screen. In the bottom right-hand corner of your screen, click the icon labeled “Report a problem.”
3) This will take you to “Report inappropriate street view.” Now, double check to make sure that the new webpage is still showing your home. Sometimes it may shift to a view of your neighbor’s home, but you can simply realign the red box using the cursor to cover your home.
4) Once you have your home lined up inside the red box, scroll down and you will see it ask, “Why are you reporting this image?” Below that, you will see boxes that you can click on to request to blur an image of a home, car, face, or different object.
5) Next, enter your e-mail address in the required box, and then complete the reCAPTCHA verification by clicking the box, “I’m not a robot.” Once you submit the request you will receive confirmation e-mail. Check back in a few days and your home should no longer be visible on Google Maps.
Of course, we cannot make our home address disappear from maps, but this process will blur the image of your home to prevent anyone from seeing a clear picture of your cars, garage, and the outside of your home.
The last thing you want is to give a criminal any information about your home or cars that can help them harm you or your loved one.