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“I am embarrassed to say that the presence of the Peeping Tom in this back alley has been known by many neighbors for years now”

by Prince Of Petworth February 1, 2016 at 1:05 pm 30 Comments

Photo of Willard Street by PoPville flickr user Ken Yu

“Dear PoPville,

I am writing to alert readers of a Peeping Tom in the U Street area. My husband and I live on Willard Street NW and we have a backdoor and back staircase/balcony that goes out to the alley parallel to U Street.

I am embarrassed to say that the presence of the Peeping Tom in this back alley has been known by many neighbors for years now. The Peeping Tom is an African American male, about 50 years old, medium build, and walks with a very distinct limp.

My husband, who has lived in our condo for 10 years, has pointed the PT out to me on several occasions over the past few years (not in the act of peeping, just walking around the alley) About two months ago our neighbor in the building next door alerted us that the evening before he shoo-ed the PT off our balcony–which is majorly creepy because my husband and I were sitting on the couch watching TV the whole evening, so he must have been watching us. We went to the police station and the officer we spoke to said to alert the cops the next time we see the PT in our area, and they will send someone out to question him. The officer said if we could also manage to snap a photo that would be ideal.

Fast forward to Friday night, my husband and I are getting home from dinner at around 10pm. Our neighbor (who shares the balcony with us/also has windows looking out to the balcony) intercepted us in the hallway and told us that about 5 minutes she was watching TV and she saw a man walk by her window and then 5 minutes later she saw a man wearing a big black hood poke his head around the corner and look into her window. At this point she had retreated into her kitchen, and as soon as she saw the man again, she turned on the lights and he ran away.

We called 911 who came out immediately (major props to the cops). The officer searched the area, didn’t find the PT, and we filed a police report. The officer recommended we get video cameras. I’m writing this because our neighbors need to be aware of this, and also because the more people who are on the lookout for this creeper, the better chance we have of catching this guy so he can hopefully stop terrorizing the neighborhood. I am SURE he is peeping in the whole neighborhood, not just the Willard Street alley. Peeping Toms are REALLY hard to catch and I want this guy gone.

update, the Peeping Tom was back last night (Sunday), so we called the cops again, and the cops asked my husband and me to ride around with them looking for the PT. We unfortunately didn’t find him, but is nice to know the police are genuinely trying to help us. In the back of a police car was not how we expected to spend our Sunday night. “

  • textdoc

    OP, do you have any sort of block association or neighborhood group?

    • SarahWashingtonDC

      Hi. OP here. We do not, but that is a great idea and we’ll work to get that going. Thanks!

      • 17th and t neighbor

        Could you please post the link to that group if you end up making it? I am off 17th and T and would like to be in a neighborhood group for crime concerns, etc.

        • dcgator

          Wouldn’t the U Street Neighborhood Listserv be a good place to start? I live in that “neighborhood,” and I think this might be a good way to get the word out.

      • Anon

        Could you install motion sensor lights in addition to surveillance cameras? Would that help deter the PT?

      • KyleL

        Hey Sarah –

        I live on the 1700 block of Willard and park my car in the alley between U and Willard. I’ve seen a person with that exact description several times in the alley walking through residents’ back patio areas. Usually walks away as soon as he notices that someone else is there. I never saw him peering into windows so I never thought to call the police.

        Let me know if you’re interested in trying to get a neighborhood listserv started for issues like this. I had my car broken into and looted on Willard street a couple weeks ago, so I think a way to keep everyone informed might be helpful.

  • Mike

    And you are right down from us at the 3rd district MPD station too!

  • Anonymous

    So did you get surveillance cameras yet? Let’s make it easy for the police to catch the easy ones so they can focus on tougher issues.

  • Creepy! This could lead absolutely nowhere, but you might want to check the list of sex offenders in your zip to see if anyone looks familiar.

  • stacksp

    Blinds and a surveillance camera should work. Cameras are so easy these days. Plug and play and stream over WiFi

  • TropicBird

    We used to live in the area back in the mid to late 90s. There was a peeping tom who would creep into the bushes and whack off while looking into the windows of the basement units. One night we actually stood on the roof and called the cops and watched them pull up and nab the guy. He was back on the street the same evening and the cops were well acquainted with this particular creep – his name was “Anthony.” He would get a slap on the wrist and was considered “harmless,” despite how violated the female residents felt about being spied on. I wonder if much has changed since then. I do not know what if anything will happen unless/until your peeper assaults somebody.

  • rgmwdc

    Thank you for sharing. I live there as well and I had no idea. My neighbors did chase someone off of our patio last year. I will be keeping a lookout.

  • Kathryn-DC

    I’m not a big fan of pepper spray, but this would be a great instance of when to use it. Spraying it from the house into the open air next time this creep gets to close. FYI you are supposed to register canisters with the DC govt if you buy it.

    • FridayGirl

      I hate to be a debbie downer but something tells me if this has been going on for years that pepper spray isn’t going to be a deterrent.

    • Anon MPD

      The seller has to register it, not the purchaser.

      • What about if you buy it online, like amazon?

        • caphill324

          They won’t ship it to DC. At least last I checked.

  • D

    YUP! I used to live on U & 17th and my basement bedroom was facing the same alley. I lived there over 6 years ago and I heard a Peeping Tom one night. Called the Police, they came fast, and I could hear that they got the guy. This is one of the scariest moments when you hear a zipper behind your window as you are about to fall asleep…. GET THAT GUY!

    • ANC




  • Former Willard Res

    I lived on Willard for several years, and had a similar incident with an individual fitting this description – I assumed it was an isolated, creepy incident but very scary to hear it could be a repeat offender who targets the neighborhood. I hope MPD takes this seriously and finds the responsible party.

  • becky

    In my honest I think this is the same creeper who was once on my stoop on church street between 17th and 18th…which he would have to climb up onto….Scared the living daylights out of me, and he continued to sit there as I locked the doors and called the cops, but then was no where to be found. I wouldn’t walk home after dark alone for a long time after- so creepy!

  • Daniel

    Here’s an idea: Perhaps your husband could threaten to beat the guy up if he sees him again, then follow through with that threat if he returns?

    • Anon

      Yeah! Fight crime WITH crime!

      • ANC


      • Robert Paulson

        Define crime? I am fairly certain if someone is on your balcony looking in you window with his zipper down, the police aren’t going to arrest you for getting a few punches in.

        • anon

          actually, what “Daniel” described is called “assault & battery,” which is a crime last i checked. vigilantism isn’t the answer here, smdh

          • Ricardo

            If someone is on your property and threatening you, protecting yourself is not assault and battery.

  • Kate

    I lived on the 17th and U block for two years and saw this man outside my bedroom window three times. (My room faced the back alley between Willard and U.) Unfortunately the cops took too long to come each time, so it’s good to know they are responding quickly now. I hope you catch him!

  • U St

    This guy was peeping into my friend’s window a few times. I’ve seen him walking down U St and around the corner loitering at the coffee shop. OP was right- really distinct limp.


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