Fetish and Voyeuristic Burglary
Although most burglaries are committed solely for material gain, there is a subgroup of burglars for whom material gain plays a secondary role or is rationalized. These break-ins are symbolic, often ego-dystonic, and sometimes outright bizarre.
- The fetishist frequently resorts to stealing (often from clotheslines) and then escalates to break-ins, to obtain the fetishistic object. In fetish burglary, the sexual dynamics are over: the offender typically steals objects such as female underwear, shoes or hairbrushes.
- In voyeuristic burglaries, the sexual motives are less obvious, since these burglaries are stimulated by a generalized urge to look around and inspect, often with the fantasy of seeing a naked woman. Peeping toms can escalate to voyeuristic burglary.
Both paraphilias, fetishism and voyeurism, begin in late childhood, and the burglaries often begin in adolescence. Fetish burglars sometimes soil the premises by urination, defecation, or ejaculation. Voyeuristic burglaries are typically not recognized by law enforcement or forensic examiners, because the sexual motivation is more covert and the offender often does not understand. Thus, sexually motivated voyeuristic burglary is often incorrectly viewed as an unsuccessful burglary for gain.
Both William Heirens and Jerry Brudos developed a fetish as children. They began burglarizing in adolescence and subsequently committed several sexual homicides. Notorious serial murderers such as Ted Bundy, Richard Ramirez, and Danny Rolling are examples of voyeurs who engaged in voyeuristic burglary and eventually committed several sexual homicides.
Colonel Russell Williams, the notorious Canadian killer, is perhaps the most prolific fetish burglar that we know of, having amassed a collection of hundreds of items of women’s belongings from their homes, and also having engaged in voyeuristic burglaries. He carefully logged his burglaries in a journal and kept track of the items he stole and the women he spied on.