As the weather gets warmer, one Manhattan official is asking New Yorkers to keep an eye out for anyone looking to invade their privacy — with just the click of a button.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. has launched a new social media campaign looking to raise awareness of “upskirting” — which he defined as the illegal, voyeuristic act of taking someone’s photo without her knowledge or permission.
As the days begin to get warmer, the number of incidents of “upskirting” begins to increase. Just last month Manhattan authorities arrested five “upskirters” during what was a warm week.
The campaign aims to let the public known of both the crime and also its consequence, while also informing people of the locations and methods favored by the alleged criminals.
According to Vance, frequent locations for “upskirting” in Manhattan include subway stations at Lexington Avenue-59th Street, Grand Central Station, Times Square and Union Square. Victims can be targeted on subway cars, platforms, stairs, escalators, benches and in other crowded areas.
Devices that are normally used to take the illegal photos or in some cases videos include smartphones and small cameras that can be hidden in items such as newspapers, briefcases, soda cans, jackets, hats and even buttons.
Authorities said that devices that have been seized often have photos or videos of multiple women — with as many as two dozen in some serious cases.
Anyone caught committing the act of “upskirting” faces charges of unlawful surveillance, which carries a maximum penalty of up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in jail and also potential sex offender registration. If any images have been shared or publicized online, the individual also face being charged with a second felony crime.
Vance said he urges anyone who sees this act being committed to report the incident to the NYPD or an MTA employee or call 911.
“This is a serious crime with serious consequences,” Vance said. “I urge New Yorkers to stay aware, and most of all, to report this behavior to law enforcement — either by telling a nearby police officer or calling 911. These are not victimless crimes, but damaging invasions of privacy, and so-called ‘upskirters’ will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”