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Stalking “Breaking the Silence” Part II 

(WABI TV5 News Script)It’s hard to escape computer technology in today’s world.Folks are on facebook, twitter, myspace and are blogging around the clock. But what happens when someone breaks into your virtual world? Cyberstalking is a crime and it’s on the rise according to police.Tonight, we continue our series of reports on “Stalking – Breaking the Silence” Joining us from our Central Maine Bureau is Adrienne Bennett with more.(Adrienne Bennett)Tonight, we catch up with Maine’s top expert on computer crimes and find out just how easy it is to become a victim and how much trouble you can get into if you’re caught cyberstalking. Sgt. Glenn Lang: “It can be incredibly dangerous.””I’m Sergeant Glenn Lang with Maine State Police and I supervise the Computer Crimes Task Force Unit.” Sgt. Glenn Lang: “We had a young woman who’s life was basically destroyed for 3 years by a person who was monitoring her email and pretending to be her and posting a lot of things to Craigslist, myspace, to facebook enticing men to come to her home and they would end up showing up at her home and business.” Recently, 40-year-old Shawn Sayer of Biddeford was sentenced to nearly two years in jail for terrorizing an ex-girlfriend. She went as far as changing her name and moving out of state, but that didn’t stop Sayer from tracking her down. Maine State Police worked on the cyberstalking case for over a year…Sgt. Glenn Lang: “Even with our really strong technology base here we still struggle with these cases. Every day they’re coming up with new ways to terrorize people using the internet.”Sayer is also facing federal charges…Although there is no universally accepted definition of cyberstalking, the term is used by the department of justice as the use of the Internet, e-mail, or other electronic communications devices to stalk another person.Sgt. Glenn Lang: “They can pretend to be you. They can send out emails so it really does appear to be coming from you and there’s a lot of sites out there now designed to assist them in those behaviors.””Hello, Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence” Julia Colpitts: “The most important piece is to really be aware that you’re not alone.”Research shows that there were three and a half million people stalked in the U.S. in 2008. A report from the Department of Justice found that one quarter of those victims reported cyberstalking…Julia Colpitts works with victims…”One of the things that’s scariest is the way, the perfect fit for technology with a lot of the characteristics of abusers who are really interested in power, control and secrecy and the ability to dominate and feel superior. Technology plays right into it.” The report indicates nearly 3 in 4 stalking victims knew their offender in some way. Julia Colpitts: “It’s the same people and same kind of person just using a new tool and the same old crime of power, control and harassment.”Sgt. Glenn Lang: “The cases that we’ve seen almost invariably involve someone who has at some point been fairly close to the victim. Usually an ex-boyfriend or ex girlfriend, but it’s almost invariably someone who may be able to answer those security questions.”Sgt. Lang suggest that people limit the information shared on social networking sites.Lang also says it’s a good idea to strengthen security questions and to change passwords frequently, even if you feel safe.