Nova Scotia

Sleep watcher victims asked about missing clothes

Halifax Regional Police officers are asking victims of the so-called sleep watcher if they are missing any clothing, fuelling hope that police are close to cracking the case.

Police believe 30 incidents linked to same man

Halifax Regional Police officers are asking victims of the so-called sleep watcher if they are missing any clothing, fuelling hope that police are close to cracking the case.

The sleep watcher file — involving an intruder who has invaded the homes of women in the city's south end in recent years — is still unsolved.

Anna, whose roommate was the victim of the intruder in September, said the possibility of stolen garments is both disturbing and hopeful.

"It kind of makes me happy because then, he can be held on something. He can be connected to this," she said. Her last name is being withheld to protect her identity.

"If he took a piece of clothing, that's a mistake. That's not very smart on his part. And I hope that he did."

A legal document, filed in the fall and obtained by CBC News, said police arrested a man and found a bag of women's clothing in his home.

According to the document, Halifax Regional Police believe the same man is involved in 30 high-profile break-and-enter incidents in the Halifax's south end since 2004.

A woman who was the victim of such an incident in June 2010 told CBC News on Tuesday that she was recently asked by investigators if she noticed any clothes missing.

She said she hadn't.

The woman, whose identity is being withheld, said she asked the investigator if there would be charges in her case. The officer responded that it was unlikely due to lack of evidence — but said there may be charges in other cases.

Halifax Regional Police Const. Brian Palmeter would not comment on any specific aspects of the sleep watcher file, but said it would be standard procedure to ask about missing clothing.

"Obviously we believe that there's likely a sexual motive behind these incidents," Palmeter said.

"If that's the case, is that person stealing items of clothing, perhaps undergarments, things of that nature that belong to the women?"

Earlier this week, officers also contacted a woman whose apartment was the scene of a sleep watcher crime in October 2010.

She told CBC News that on the night of the incident, police officers showed up with pieces of clothing in hand.

"When the police officers came into our house they actually showed us some underwear and bras and asked us if that was ours because they had apprehended somebody who was carrying those things that night," the woman recounted on Tuesday.

"So I guess my mind always thought that's what they were out looking for."

The undergarments the police officers had that night were not hers, the woman said.

Dr. Aileen Brunet, a forensic psychiatrist, said she would not be surprised if the sleep watcher turned out to be a panty thief.

"It is commonly associated at times with people wanting to take a trophy or memento," she said.

"Some individuals have sexual fetishes that involve women's clothing or other people's clothing, often undergarments, but not exclusively."

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