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Serial peeping Tom arrested, accused of looking in windows of St. Thomas students

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A St. Paul man has been arrested and charged after authorities say he was peeping into windows of University of St. Thomas students – and this wasn't the first time he's been caught interfering with people's privacy.

The arrest came after female St. Thomas students reported the license plate of a man who had been peeping into their windows a few nights in a row last week, according to the criminal complaint.

That prompted St. Paul police to do undercover detail in the Mac-Groveland area, at which point they spotted a man looking into the windows of two homes – both occupied by college-age women – on Ashland and Portland avenues, not far from the University of St. Thomas, the complaint says.

Police arrested John Searle, 44, who told them he was shocked and didn't understand why he was being arrested, the complaint notes.

He was charged Friday with surreptitious interference with privacy, which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison or a $5,000 fine, or both, the complaint says, and was being held on $200,000 bail, WCCO notes.

The women who reported the peeper are being credited for playing a key role in the arrest, police told the Pioneer Press. St. Thomas public safety also commended the student's "timely reporting of the incidents."

Searle has a criminal history dating back to 1995. He has five prior felony convictions for harassment and stalking, as well as four gross misdemeanor convictions for interfering with privacy, and two gross misdemeanor stalking convictions, the complaint says.

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