PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – Deputies warned Tuesday that videos showing Putnam County women and teenagers in public places are being posted on YouTube and other social media platforms.
According to the Putnam County Sheriff's Office, a man is secretly recording cellphone videos, often depicting the backsides of women and shot from a low angle, at stores in the Palatka area. Deputies said sometimes there is text accompanying the video, including the word "sexy." News4Jax was shown some of the videos, which appear to have been professionally edited. Some show a lot of skin, depending on what the women were wearing.
"While we do not agree with the videos or condone the behavior of the person(s) posting these, unfortunately, the videos do not break any laws or meet criminal statutes," reads part of a Facebook post on the PCSO Facebook page. "Make no mistake, we would not want to see our loved ones or children videoed without their knowledge or consent, but we must apply the law before acting and this does not meet the criteria."
Palatka resident Pamela Ward said, "It should be against the law."
Deputies told News4Jax they’re not filing charges against the man suspected of secretly recording the cellphone videos and posting them on several social media websites because his actions are not considered criminal and he hasn’t gone as far as sticking his camera phone under a woman’s dress or in a dressing room where unsuspecting women are changing.
“That is where we would draw the line," Maj. Steve Rose said. "That is video voyeurism and we would come into play at that point because that is a criminal matter and we would take action on that.”
The Sheriff’s Office said it is also worried about people, especially those who have concealed carry licenses, taking matters into their own hands if they catch the man in the act. News4Jax was told some people have already questioned whether or not they will be arrested if they physically confront the man.
"If he ever gets caught, somebody’s going to hurt him," Palatka resident Joey Heath said. "I’m telling you now because people around here don’t play that.”
Instead, deputies said anyone who sees the man at a store should contact management.
"More than likely, that manager will make contact with the individual and more than likely trespass him," Rose said.
Deputies also urge people to report the videos as offensive on the social media platforms on which they are posted.