West Country locals fear a latex-clad prowler who terrorised them at night two years ago may have returned amid reports of a ‘masked man’ spying on a couple through their window in the early hours.
In the latest reported incident, a couple claimed they were watching TV when they noticed a masked man lying in their garden watching them through the French doors.
Avon and Somerset Police were called to a house in the village of Claverham on September 1 at 00.15am but were ‘unable to locate the man’.
Writing online, a woman who said she spotted the man – in a ‘ski-type’ mask – earlier this month appealed for doorbell or CCTV footage.
A ‘masked man’ was spotted spying on a couple through their window at midnight in the village of Claverham, Somerset, on September 1, leaving locals fearing the ‘gimp man’ has returned (picture of the man in a full body suit taken by a victim in July 2019)
She wrote: ‘A man in some kind of mask was led on the floor watching us through our French doors.’
She said the man ‘legged it’ when her husband chased him.
The sighting has left residents worried that the ‘gimp man’ who terrorised the nearby villages of Claverham and Yatton has returned, with locals speculating it was the same person from incidents two years ago.
One wrote online: ‘He’s back….’
Since November 2018, there have been over 14 reports of a person dressed in disguises approaching people at night in the village.
Following a police search in 2019, using helicopters and sniffer dogs, two men, aged 28 and 34, were arrested on suspicion of indecency offences.
However, due to insufficient evidence they were both later released without charge and no further action was taken against them.
The last reported incident was in July 2019, when a person in a black latex bodysuit and mask touching his groin reportedly approached a young woman on the streets.
Officers said they were keeping an open mind as to whether the latest reported incident and the July 2019 incident are linked.
With the latest reported sighting, ‘freaked out’ residents fear it means the ‘gimp man’ has returned and a group has been set up for people to patrol Claverham in teams
Since November 2018, there have been 14 reports of a person dressed in disguises approaching people at night in the village, though no one has been charged (pictured, July 2019)
But a woman, who asked not to be named, told the BBC: ‘I’ve got older children and even my kids are saying ‘it’s the gimp man again’.
‘They’re really freaked out by it.
‘But it could be anyone and I want to come from a practical point of view and do something to help people feel safer.’
She said people had reported ‘weird things happening’ recently in the village.
‘I’m not too bothered to walk around on my own but it freaks my children out and I want them to feel safer,’ she added.
A group has now been set up for people to walk around Claverham in teams, and its members said it was not encouraging people to put themselves in danger but hoped to support neighbours and encourage awareness.
One woman, who asked not to be named, said people had reported ‘weird things happening’ recently in the village. Pictured: Claverham High Street and Post Office
One previous victim Abi, 25, said when she heard about the latest sighting: ‘My heart felt like I was running a marathon, [there was] an instant feeling of panic, anxiety and anger again which took me over a year of private counselling and medications to control.
‘If I’m not worrying at home, I’m worrying at work because my wife’s at home and so are many other women.’
Describing her attack she said the man was fully covered in the suit and was ‘coming towards me and was touching his groin, grunting and breathing heavy’.
A police spokesman told the BBC that patrols had been increased in the Claverham area since September 1.
Anyone with information or with dashcam or doorbell camera footage of a man in Claverham on Wednesday, September 1 wearing what has been described as a full face mask is asked to contact police.