SMITHFIELD — Smithfield Police Capt. Michael Rheaume says the only law he can find that could possibly prevent a resident from directing cameras from pointing into a neighbor’s yard is a video voyeurism charge, responding to an inquiry on resident Michael Erbe’s complaint about a neighbor.
Erbe, of 34 Whipple Road, said for a story last week that his neighbor at 32 Whipple Road, with security cameras pointing at his front, side and back yards, is invading his privacy and the placement of the cameras is just “plain old creepy.”
According to Rhode Island General Law 11-64-2, video voyeurism is when a person, for sexual arousal, gratification or stimulation, looks into an occupied dwelling or other building by use of an imaging device to provide images of the interior of a dwelling.
Erbe has a 7-foot-tall fence bordering his and his neighbor’s house to try to block the cameras. He said his neighbor has asked that the fence be removed.
According to Rhode Island General Laws, fences more than 6 feet tall require a permit. A spite fence, or fence that “unnecessarily exceeds” 6 feet in height and is “maliciously erected” to annoy neighbors of the adjoining property, is a nuisance, according to the law.
“Their problem is I’m not budging. Knowing government, they will probably demand I remove the fence without him moving the camera,” Erbe said.
He said he feels the issue is important not only for himself, but for everyone who wants to enjoy privacy.
Since the story last week, Erbe said he has not “heard from next door, the Town Council, police or zoning.”