Students react to recent flashing incidents

Claire Krugler and Amy Leung

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Check out this interactive map to see where flashing incidences have occurred and read about each one in more depth. Map by Lizzie Chun.

After recent occurrences of indecent exposure, the Palo Alto Police Department and students of Palo Alto High School shared their reactions and methods of prevention to incidents of indecent exposure.

According to the PAPD press release, there have been four separate incidences of flashing in and near Palo Alto since early August, especially targeting young women. The PAPD is uncertain whether there is only one suspect or multiple suspects involved.

The first indecent exposure disturbance, which occurred at 4:47 p.m. on Oct. 6 at the 1600 block of Bryant Street, was reported by 14 year-old-girl. Back in early August between 1 and 2 p.m., a 13-year-old girl had been flashed with a similar description of the suspect on the 1600 block of Bryant Street, and saw the flasher again later on the 1500 block of Emerson Street.

A PAPD sketch of the flasher, as described by the 14-year-old female victim. Screenshot by Amy Leung.

A PAPD sketch of the flasher, as described by the 14-year-old female victim. Screenshot by Amy Leung.

At 6:41 p.m. on Oct. 7, the 24-hour dispatch center received a call regarding another flashing incident. The parents of a 10-year-old girl called reporting that their daughter had been the victim of an indecent exposure at the intersection of Byron Street and Seal Avenue. The PAPD responded by searching the area, but were unable to find the suspect.

A PAPD sketch of the flasher, as described by a victim, who was a woman in her twenties. Screenshot by Amy Leung.

A PAPD sketch of the flasher, as described by a victim, who was a woman in her twenties. Screenshot by Amy Leung.

Another incident occurred October 9, where a bicyclist in her twenties was flashed by a man in a white BMW sedan on the 4300 block of Miller Avenue.  A suspect in a similar vehicle exposed himself to two women in Belmont the following morning.

A Belmont Police Department sketch of the flasher, as described as two women. Screenshot by Amy Leung.

A Belmont Police Department sketch of the flasher, as described as two women. Screenshot by Amy Leung.

The PAPD is focusing its attention to finding the perpetrator or perpetrators, according to Lt. Zach Perron.

“Our detectives are actively working on the cases and working in tandem with detectives from area police departments as well to see if the crimes match descriptions in other jurisdictions,” Perron said. “Our patrol personnel are on heightened alert and will respond quickly to any new reports that may come in.”

Junior Aiva Petriceks expresses unease knowing that a flasher is driving around Palo Alto.

“The flashing definitely makes me feel really uncomfortable,” Petriceks said. “During the day, I think of Palo Alto as a place where I can walk through the town, and I’ll be perfectly fine. To hear [that] people are being flashed, that definitely makes me a little scared to just walk around by myself.”

Petriceks also said that people should be cautious.

“For girls, definitely walk in groups of people,” Petriceks said. “Being a teenage girl, walking around by yourself and getting flashed, that’s really scary and… not safe.”

Sophomore Carter Faust agrees with Petriceks, giving more advice.

“I think it’s kind of creepy, especially since everyone bikes to school,” Faust said. “They [the PAPD] should patrol more, and people should bike together.”

According to Perron, the PAPD  is doing just that.

“We increased staffing levels, redistributed personnel to field assignments and have a number of plainclothes officers in the neighborhoods trying to find the suspect,” Perron said.

In addition, the PAPD has been releasing sketches and will continue to do so in order to bring awareness and help recognize suspects.

“By releasing sketches of the suspect, we hope that someone will recognize the person and give us a call with a tip,” Perron said.

“We need people to keep their eyes out for any suspicious behavior,” Perron said. “We ask that if people see anything that seems out of the ordinary, that they give us a call right away on 9-1-1.  It’s always better to call right away and let us determine if the suspicious behavior is innocent or criminal, than to justify suspicious activity and not call.”