While the average 21st Century citizen prefers not to think about this crime syndrome, stalking groups have been using "civilian psychological warfare" on their targets now for at least two decades.
And talking about this taboo topic brings a very heavy "don't spoil my day" response. People not affected simply refuse to listen to information on stalking by more than one stalker. Kind of like the way folks don't like hearing about cancer.
In the early 1990s, legal jursidictions in both the United States and Canada finally enacted legislation making stalking a crime. But to society's detriment, justice systems everywhere seamlessly ignore every case where a group of stalkers engage in the same behaviour as single stalkers. The reason isn't clear, but it may have to do with the rather substantial amount of investigative labour required when a group takes turns doing "little nasties" against a target. Who is the perpetrator?
That the stalkers are generally not career criminals makes going after stalking group members a substantial project for the justice system. Some of the stalkers have considerable respect in their communities.
Today's stalking groups use very carefully planned harassment methods. Every single act of harassment is carefully designed so that it is in the "life's normal breaks" category. What the target sees are "normal breaks" which usually occur maybe once or twice a month on average, to maybe once a year. But for organized stalking targets, such "normal breaks" happen at least once, and often several times a DAY.
This "life's normal breaks" format of the crime also adds to the difficulty of investigating and prosecuting organized stalking. In turn, the apparent normalcy makes it very easy for police and other officials to brush off complaints of organized stalking as the target being "mistaken", "overreacting," or often, "in need of seeing a good psychiatrist."
"Life's normal breaks" span a huge range of seriousness.
At the low end you have endless noise from co-opted neighbours who observe the target and schedule "normal activity" like running a leaf blower for each time a target may wish to enjoy peaceful activity. Or scattering the target's mail on their porch while the target is away at work. Or frequent, make believe, obviously sarcastic "wrong number" calls.
But at the opposite end of the range, you have surreptitious entry to the target's home, car and workplace, with sabotage of belongings, and torture and even the death of pets. One target came home to find antifreeze in the dog's dish, and the dog permanently blind. Some pets or wild animals are butchered and left on the target's doorstep.
It is common, where a target is married, for the stalkers to carefully harass the target only at times and places when the target is separated from the partner. This eventually drives the target to complain, and the usual reaction is "Don't talk about that any more" or "Go see a psychiatrist right away". The marriage is then often headed for destruction.
Vicious lies are circulated in the community, and these lies do not stop. Such lies as the target is a prostitute, a drug user, a drug dealer, has a long criminal record, or the highly destructive favourite (applied to both men and women,) the target is a pedophile.
Sabotage, lies, and harassment happen at the workplace as well, and it's not unusual for the target to be driven from a job. Once that happens, when the target looks for another job, the target is shadowed, and lies are fed to prospective employers. Some targets have been driven to homelessness, and a few have been driven to suicide.
So just because activity is confined to "life's normal breaks", these "breaks" can be devastating and even become life-and-death issues.
Along with the lies, endless sabotage of individually small, but cumulatively important belongings accompanies the surreptitious entries, which are done using locksmithing techniques, and often, illegally obtained keys. The target effectively owns nothing, because anything he or she owns is subject to being ruined.
Sabotage is carefully spaced out and held to relatively low individual value per incident, as are the thefts that also occur. A great deal of effort is put into planning the sabotage and thefts, and scheduling them so police will not take the complaints seriously.
Even the sabotage has a well planned psychological element: Clothing is often ripped open at sexually significant places like armpits and crotches. Can you imagine taking your underwear to the police station to report that someone broke in and ripped out all the crotches? Do you think the police would treat that as a crime worthy of their attention?
How long does this go on? With a literal handful of rare exceptions, for life. Because the stalking groups continue to recruit and grow indefinitely, there is no "tiring" of the stalker, as happens in single stalker cases.
To this point, I've briefly highlighted the crime of organized stalking. Organized stalking is sometimes called "gang stalking" though the stalking group members generally don't appear to be affiliated with youth gangs, race gangs, biker gangs, or say, the Mafia. "Vigilante stalking" is sometimes used because of the false allegations that targets are active criminals.
The big question of course, is "Why?" The full answer has yet to be discovered.
For an individual target, the "Why?" answer relates to the lies told to the people doing the harassing. There are people in any neighbourhood or community who enjoy the feeling of self-righteousness from "helping keeping crime under control", or in some cases "doing the Lord's work." Tell the right lies, and it's not hard to recruit harassers.
A second part of the "Why?" question, for which no clear answer is yet available, is why the leaders of these organized stalking groups propagate the lies. One author, Florida private investigator David Lawson, investigated organized stalking groups for more than a decade, and succeeded in infiltrating groups in the United States and Canada.
His current book on the subject is "Cause Stalking" and is available from amazon.com
David Lawson found that the organized stalking group leaders keep something of an "arm's length" distance from the members, often passing target designations in ways where the leader can't be identified, such as a coded classified newspaper ad, or even a mention on a local radio show.
Lawson reports that leaders are often from "somewhere else" and claim to have worked in "intelligence" or other difficult to verify jobs. He was able to interact with stalking group members, but his information on the leaders is skimpy.
David Lawson did report some corporate funding of these stalking groups, by corporations who needed ways to deal with people and groups they consider their "enemies." People like activists and whistleblowers, or even intellectuals critical of their activities.
Cases are known where, for example, a wife discovers her husband is a pedophile and reports him. Inheritance disputes are understandable. And of course, some organized stalking cases have resulted from having a marriage or relationship go sour.
Those are reasons why some targets have been selected, but it is distressing is that there are many targets who do not know why they were initially chosen.
The reason David Lawson chose "Cause Stalking" as the title of his current book on the subject is that he found organized stalking members are often recruited on the basis of some "cause". Lawson didn't elaborate on the causes used for recruiting, but did report that once recruited, the "front" cause is essentially ignored, and the actual work of the group is to harass "criminals", and perhaps drive them out of the community.
Lawson reports, and targets concur, that across the U.S. and Canada, local groups now exist everywhere and the are seamlessly networked. If a target moves, the group in the new location will continue the harassment.
David Lawson has done ground-breaking work in exposing the plight of thousands of organized stalking targets. His observations are hailed by the targets as "right on the money" - highly accurate.
And yet, he has missed the mark when it comes to his conclusions.
Lawson repeatedly lays the blame for organized stalking groups at the feet of foreign terrorists (the "Al Quaeda" thing,) and, members of the U.S. Patriot Movement, who, according to their radio shows, are interested in exposing government crimes and deviations from the U.S. Consitution. (Lawson calls them "anti government", but one would think that exposing government crime is a truly patriotic act.)
Lawson's own observations simply do not show any involvement by either foreign terrorists or the U.S. Patriot movement. No connection is visible. That doesn't mean there aren't some members of either Al-Quaeda or the U.S. Patriot Movement who also do some organized stalking, but targets don't report a visible connection with those groups from their experiences.
So, what can be done about the crime of organized stalking?
In the opinion of this writer, all it would take to stop it would be for organized stalking to become a household word. That's it. It's that simple.
The problem is that because the justice system consistently denies the reality, the media has nothing they are willing to print. If a target approaches reporters, the reporters, under the gun for accuracy, are very reluctant, though there are small hints this may be slowly changing.
If the general public were aware of this crime, the pressure on the justice system would be sufficient to stop it, I claim.
Meanwhile, what can someone who discovers (and that can take time) that their endless "bad luck" is really organized stalking do to help themselves?
Right now, there are a precious few, a small minority, of crisis support organization counselors who do know organized stalking is "real" and will offer some support. They cannot stop the crime, nor can they force the reluctant justice system to act to help the target, but it can make a huge difference just knowing one person, especially connected with an organization, does believe the target and does know that organized stalking is a real crime.
Anti-organized stalking activists need to work harder at developing connections with those few crisis support counselors, in the view of this writer.
Perhaps the largest pool of activity among targets is networking via the Internet. Because destruction of targets' incomes is a high priority of the stalkers, target activism is rather poorly funded, but some things are happening. At the moment, I'd like to recommend googling "organized stalking" (with the quotes) to readers who may believe their "bad luck" has reached the point of organized stalking.
Networking doesn't stop the harassment but it can dramatically improve the outlook for targets.
What can the general public do to help?
Look up organized stalking on the Internet, read what is available, and above all else, talk it up. The day organized stalking becomes a household word is the day that this crime will be properly attended to by justice systems.
Special thanks to readers who have read this article.