Residents in the quiet village where Nicola Bulley disappeared have reported amateur sleuths attempting to get into their homes, peering through windows and shooting body camera footage of private properties.
The "invasion" - as one resident has described them - of hundreds of armchair detectives on St. Michael on Wyre has prompted locals to hire a private security firm to see off potential intruders.
Wyre Council Leader Michael Vincent told Yahoo News UK that some of the village's 600 residents, many of whom are elderly, had been left scared by people who appeared to be trying to get into their homes.
"Once the speculation online seemed to start it went into overdrive, people started coming to St. Michael’s, that’s when the negative reports really started," he said.
"One resident who lived nearby was concerned that she’d had somebody walk up to her window in the middle of the day, ringing on the bell, trying the door - you name it. She was quite scared.
"We’ve had reports of people generally trying doors and things… I’m speculating but the only logical theory is they were trying doors because they thought they’d go in there and find Nicola. There is no sensible explanation but that’s the only theory we have."
Bulley has been missing since 27 January, and was last seen walking her dog, Willow, by the River Wyre at around 9.10am. Her dog's harness and mobile phone were found on a bench just 20 minutes later, but Bulley was nowhere to be seen.
Her disappearance has sparked a huge influx of crime tourists to the area, some posing for selfies on the bench where her belongings were found, others attempting to discover what happened.
YouTuber Dan Duffy was arrested on a public order offence while filming in the area, while police also issued a 48-hour dispersal order to discourage people from travelling to the area to search for the missing mortgage broker.
One local business owner, who did not want to be identified, told Yahoo News UK they had added three extra CCTV cameras to their business as a result of the influx of people coming to the village to attempt to solve the mystery of Bulley's disappearance.
"It’s very upsetting to the local community, it’s a time where people are very unsure about letting their kids out, and it's a very quiet community and [Bulley's disappearance] is a big shock to lot of people," she said.
"These TikTokkers, they think 'so many people will follow me because I’m in this certain area', just leave it be. It’s a strange time in this area. I think the ladies are more nervous than the men.
"We have a lot of CCTV here, and I put an extra three cameras in to be on the safe side."
Another local resident told Yahoo News UK they had seen a man wearing a body camera on his front walking through the village and taking shots of homes and driveways, describing the whole situation as "very odd".
"It’s not nice when you have such a tiny little village that is put on the map on such a large scale," the business owner added. "There’s nothing round here, most people are known for leaving stuff unlocked round here but they won’t be from now on, and that’s just how things have changed. It’s a shame."
Nicola Bulley investigation: read the latest developments
Nicola Bulley: Key developments and latest updates in hunt for missing mother (Yahoo News UK, 5-min read)
Keir Starmer 'Surprised' Lancashire Police Revealed Nicola Bulley's Personal Struggles (HuffPost, 3-min read)
'Every day is a struggle': Father of missing Nicola Bulley hopes for 'breakthrough' (Sky News, 2-min read)