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Another peep in the door: Japanese experts urge residents to beware of people peering in

This file photo shows a way to prevent people from using a door peephole to see inside a home. (Mainichi)

FUKUOKA -- Door peepholes that are designed to allow a person inside to look out might pose security risks as tips on how to peer in at residents are available and easily accessible online. Police and crime prevention experts are urging people to take measures to protect their privacy.

In August, a 40-year-old man was arrested by Fukuoka Prefectural Police on suspicion of entering an apartment building in Fukuoka's Minami Ward in southwestern Japan and peering into a woman's apartment through the door peephole. According to investigative sources, the man developed romantic feelings for the woman after seeing her near a local station. He followed the woman home and found out which building she lived in. He then visited the area several times and was aware of her apartment. He was arrested on Aug. 29 after being reported to police for acting suspiciously outside her apartment.

At the time of his arrest, the man was in possession of a monocular usually used in the outdoors and at theaters. While the door peephole allows the person inside to check who is on the other side, inside the residence can also be seen through the peephole by using a monocular. This information is now easily available online. The man agreed to meet the Mainichi Shimbun in September while in detention at a police station and said, "I learned the technique from a video on YouTube and checked many other websites too."

The man tried to take photos using a digital camera with the monocular, but had forgotten to insert a memory card. As a result, he escaped from being charged for the violation of the prefecture's nuisance prevention ordinance. The man told the Mainichi, "I did something unforgivable. I want to go back in time and punch myself." The man reached a settlement with the woman and the Fukuoka Local Public Prosecutors Office decided on Sept. 26 not to indict the man.

How can a person protect themselves from someone peeking in through a door peephole? Kimihiro Hino, a professor at the University of Tokyo graduate school, suggests hiding the peephole, for example by installing a magnet hook that sticks to the door and hanging a small object. You can see who is outside the door by moving the object when necessary.

Other anti-peeking methods, including using sticky tape and installing a cover specifically designed for peepholes, are suggested online. Another way is to hang small curtains in the space between the door and the room to not allow an onlooker to peek into the residence.

Hino says, "Crime techniques, including ones that use door peepholes, that are shown online can be easily copied. We need to be on our guard against new techniques and come up with countermeasures.

(Japanese original by Shunsuke Ichimiya, Fukuoka News Department)

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