Creepy Neighbor While We're Renovating

roodleMay 6, 2007

Hi all - I've recently divorced & moved to an urban neighorbood from a quiet suburb nearby [only 4 miles but what a difference in terms of quiet-attitude-socioeconomic]. Due to finances I had to pick somewhere "affordable" to buy, e.g. the City. I'm in a brick duplex with my one next door neighbor approx. 30 ft. away & slightly uphill. Same 100 yr old duplex [brick Victorian, wrap-around porch]. His porch side & mine are next to each other. I'm a middle aged woman, this guy is probably mid-30's & married to a very strange woman.

With the advent of spring, I've been outside a lot clearing, cleaning & removing & fixing/renovating with my help. I own 2 large dogs, both "friendly" but like ALL dogs, will bark at some strangers, mostly those who lurk, creep around or show up w/out warning. This young man is a lurking creeper. As soon as I'm outside w/my dogs, contained securely behind a temporary 4 ft. high fence situation [land must be cleared of debris & huge weeds/trees before I can install permanent fence], this creep comes out & starts lurking with a pretense of doing yard work. But he never does any. Mainly he lurks about & stands in his bushes looking at us. Last night he came out as soon as my ex-hubby left & our work was done for the day. It was dark out by then. I've installed floods w/motion detectors. I'm hoping the wooden fence sends him the message to mind his own beeswax.

I've already taken the time to cheerfully introduce him to my dogs, both over 100 lbs. My former neighbors liked them & were liked in return. They're not 'guard' dogs but they do 'watch' & alert bark [well, one will, the other [a Rottweiler, ironically] is a big sissy]]. He informed me that he was afraid of dogs but I explained their good natures etc. & he seemed satisfied. Now he's getting on their nerves & mine!

The Lurker has been acting very strangely; last night as I was grilling on my patio in my yard, he crept up into the common side yard, where the 4 ft. tall, strong "crowd control" temporary fence was put in yesterday, & stood there. Saying nothing but staring at the dogs. My one dog, the male, reacted by furiously barking back from the fence. Neither of my dogs would or could jump the 4 ft. fence [it's heavy gauge animal/crowd control]. My yard is inaccessible unless thru my house. So he can't get in & the dogs can't get out. We know they won't jump it even for squirrels. :-D

I will be putting in sturdy wooden privacy fence w/out any space between the pickets in about 4 -6 weeks as $ come in; I'd like to say something to the Lurker. My dogs are not vicious & have never bitten but do bark when people act strangely like this guy. They are NEVER in the yard alone, nor for extended periods. I'm always w/them outside or my adult son is out there w/them.

Plus frankly, he's creeping me out with the diligence of his sneaking, creeping & standing silently staring. He does seem crazy in a harmless but stalker way [I never trust these sorts]. I've realized I must cover every single of my large 72"H windows with privacy draperies or shades, which I've pretty much completed.

What sort of thing can I say to him to discourage this behavior, even after I get the wooden 6 ft. high fence in?

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"Is there something I can help you with?" is polite, nonconfrontational (if you say it with a little smile) and generally will let him know you're quite aware of him. He should back down then, but if not, you will have your fence and curtains soon, so I wouldn't worry a lot. Some people are just a little weird, but harmless.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 3:30PM
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I'd be curious about the way the previous owners felt about him. And in addition, I'd probably do an online search to see if he had a criminal background.
What's his wife like, besides being strange?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 5:20PM
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Have you talked to the other neighbors? I hope you changed the locks on your front door before you moved in.

Checking to see if he has a criminal background is a good idea. I'd start with the local police department to see if anyone else in the neighborhood has reported him. Court of Common Pleas as well as the offender site would be next on my list.

It is great that you have big dogs and will be getting a 6ft fence in the very near future. I wonder what he would say if your adult son or ex-husband were to ask him what he is doing when he is lurking?

Links that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 11:36AM
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Maybe he's burried a body in your yard and lurking to observe odors and watch the dogs. What if they should start digging it up!


    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 4:32PM
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It's giving me the creeps even reading about him. I'm glad you have the big dog. In addition, can you get some pepper spray and have it with you when you are outside?
Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 8:28PM
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You said that you made sure to tell the guy next door that the dogs are harmless and that the guy said he's scared of dogs. You should maybe not reassure that guy any more. Let him be scared.

I don't know that you can discourage him by anything you say to him. I think ignoring him completely - especially once that fence is in - will help you the most. I've worked with people who were "crazy in a harmless but stalker way" as you said, and their reactions can be unpredictable.

Also, it's good that you say you don't leave your dogs out alone. You don't want your dogs suddenly getting sick from food that comes over the fence.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 10:22AM
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Ahh, this reminds me of almost 30 yrs ago when we moved to our property. I'm come home from work and immediately go outside to do yard work. DH worked nights. Next door neighbor thought he was God's gift to women, his wife worked 2nd shift too.
He'd put on a pair of very tight white shorts and strut up and down the lot line staring at me. I never was without a shovel in my hand and intended to use it. Also had a Siberian husky who feared no one, and looked just like a wolf. He admitted he was deathly afraid of the dog. I told DH about this idiot. One night, DH left work early, came home, quietly parked truck, walked up to lot line and STARED at neighbor. Neighbor took one look at him, ran in house and never pulled that stunt again.
Perhaps a little man-to-man face time with your EX might put the looney in his place. Good luck!!! - Ellen

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 1:32PM
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Well, you're going through enough right now without having to deal with psych-job neighbors. I agree with the others. Don't let him know the dogs are harmless. When you see him standing there staring, I would also ask him if he's alright. If the dogs bark and growl at him, don't order them off. The flood lights are an excellent idea, as well as the pepper spray. The fence can only help matters. If only you could erect a six foot privacy this possible? No message is too strong for this bozo, believe me. Hang in there....

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 9:23PM
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I have a 50 lb. hound that puts on a good show of meanness but would really just love someone to death. I always tell people i don't know, that he might bite. Being alone right now that may be a good idea for you to do also.
Good luck with the creep next door. It might be a good idea to have a man talk to him.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 8:09AM
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I think I'd let the creep know that although your dogs are usually harmless, they do not like being stared at and you cannot take responsibility for what they might do if they are provoked. ;-)

And I would certainly check on the creep's background. Maybe call the local police department and see if they can help with that and maybe have them swing by to talk things over - if the creep sees you being friendly with police, he may leave you alone.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 11:15PM
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That is creepy--take your cue from the dogs they are very perceptive and if they are acting differently toward him than they do anyone else you'd better be extra cautious or MOVE if possible. Is it possible the guy has Autism or Aspergers?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 4:53PM
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Mention your gun collection and awards for marksmanship.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 11:28PM
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I agree with the others about letting him be afraid of the dogs.
Here's another idea though until you get the higher fence. Place a video camera (real or fake) in a spot that will look like it catches his activities. He may back off if he thinks he is being caught on tape.
Good luck and be careful!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2007 at 10:30PM
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As a single woman, I can relate to this. Agree with the others., do not tell him the dogs are harmless; let him assume the worst.
Here is a creepy story to go along with yours:
When I bought my house I was pretty financially strapped. I bought those cheap pleated shades from Domestications and had put them on all my windows. But I sometimes got a feeling someone was watching me. I never saw anyone, but would get that feeling from time to time. And, at times, my cat would wake up, growling, hair puffed and stare around the bedroom. Freaked me out.
One night, a girlfriend had a party and invited a psychic. The psychic told me 2 things: that I had just lost or misplaced an expensive jewelry item and to go home and search for it before it was gone for good. Second: to be very careful around my house. Someone had been watching me, and was coming into my yard to look in the windows. She said to be sure to lock the doors and be diligent.
I was a bit freaked out, but thought that the psychic was just making stuff up.
2 days later, I went looking for some expensive silver and turquoise earrings I had purchased in Santa Fe. I had cleaned them with silver polish, and left them in a paper towel on the counter to dry. Well, I soon realized I had thrown the paper towel with the earrings out when I was cleaning the kitchen. This was the day after our weekly garbage pickup, so the expensive earrings were gone for good. First predictions correct.
A few days later, I went out in the yard to do something. I walked to the side of my house and saw that a large rhodendrum bush planted directly under my bedroom window was completely stomped down. Broken in half, and it was clear that someone had intentionally stood on the bush by the way it was smashed. There were also footprints there; not mine. Later, when it got dark, I went outside to see if you could see through the cheap blinds I had on my bedroom window. I was flabbergasted. You could clearly see through the blinds into my bedroom without any problem.
Obviously, someone had been coming to peer into my bedroom.
Second prediction true.
That night I put some brown paper up on the windows, and ordered expensive blinds that you could not see through.
You can never be too careful, and I was always vigilant after that. Never found out who it might be, but I suspected it was someone staying at the house of an old lady behind me who took in illegal boarders.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 1:10PM
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I agree, let the creep think the dogs would rip him apart if he got too close! That's probably why he's lurking around - just to see what they would do. I swear - you can't even enjoy your own home anymore! Good luck and stay on guard.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2007 at 3:42PM
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I have a neighbor who is similar to this guy, but my neighbor is about 75 years old. Creepy, nonetheless.

When we first moved in as we got to know our neighbors, we invited some to our wedding. This neighbor, I will call him Joe, was telling guests at my wedding that he is disappointed that I purchased blinds and how my husband and I like to kiss and hug a lot. Tell me that wouldn't creep you out. My blinds on his side of the house are never opened, and he even comments on it. Whenever we go out in the yard, we feel like we are being watched. You might think, ok, this is just some old lonely guy, but it's far more than that. I had contractors at my house replacing the roof and doing exterior work. I came home one day and they told me that "Joe" went on for about 15 minutes telling them everything he knows about my personal life from where we work, what time we get home, what we do for a living, that we bought the house when we weren't married, etc. I was so upset, but as always, my husband thinks it's more important to keep the peace with the neighbors. I am a private person, and I do not like people sharing personal details with strangers without my consent.

He would also brag to us repeatedly that he has a key to our house because the prior owner would have him watch their dog sometimes. Of course, we ignore his comments because the day we closed on the house we changed the locks. One day I'm at home sick and I'm sitting in my t.v. room in my pajamas. He didn't know I was home. I hear this commotion at my back door, and my dogs are barking like crazy. I look, and the door knob is being jiggled. I look through the blinds (they were closed at the time), and he was actually trying his old key in our lock!!!! I was so freaked out, I called my husband at work and told him enough is enough. I don't think the guy was trying to be malicious, but I do think that he's controlling and his curiosity got the best of him. But who knows. From that point, my husband asked him if he ever needs anything (his excuse for being at the back door was to drop off a neighborhood flyer - which he did, but that was his excuse for being there), in the future to drop it off in our front mailbox. Again in the wintertime he would come to our back door, so I told him we don't want people back there because if he fell on the ice we don't want to be liable. The guy is very persistant, and I can't stand it. The next thing going up is an electric gate in our driveway. He will no longer have access.

Another time we had people over for a cookout in our backyard. He sat in his breakfast nook directly across from us and watched us the entire time. It made all my guests uncomfortable. We started planting trees along the perimeter of the property.

Finally, as I started working from home, he noticed that I wasn't leaving for work every morning. So I'm heading for the garage one afternoon and he says, "hey, I notice that you don't leave in the mornings anymore. Are you still working?" My response was, "Yeah, but you don't need to worry about it. It doesn't concern you." He looked shocked, but has backed off somewhat. My life is not an open book, and I don't appreciate people prying into my personal business. It really annoys me.

Most recently, he has been making comments because we have some old paneling that we've been replacing in our basement, and the old stuff is sitting out by the garbage in our back yard up against the garage. My husband hasn't broken it down yet because it still has nails in it. Something we just haven't gotten to yet. So now that he's making comments, I'm not in any rush to get it out of there. It's my property, and I don't see how what is on my own property should concern him. Our home was a major eye sore when we purchased it, and it's like night and day now. So a piece of paneling in my backyard is not his business, and it is going to stay there for another couple of weeks before I decide to do anything with it. Just because I can!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 6:30PM
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Creepy, indeed. In fact, have as little contact as possible with him. Say hello when you have to, but otherwise, be disinterested and cold.

Also, do NOT let him make friends with your dogs. Not to freak you out, rather to warn you and keep you safe: When I was training as a rape-crisis counselor, one of my instructors was a prior rape victim. She and her dog moved into one side of a duplex; the other side was occupied by her cousin. Her cousin had a friend that used to come over regularly. He became very friendly with her dog. And you can guess the rest. . . . Keep as many boundaries as possible between you and this creepy guy.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 5:10PM
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