There is a bit of a voyeurism problem in California right now. For the third time in a couple months, a hidden camera has been found in a public restroom, two in a Starbucks and another at a taco joint.
On Friday, a woman who stopped into a Brea Starbucks to use its unisex, single-user bathroom spotted a blinking blue light in bracket underneath a shelf, NBC Los Angeles reported.
Turns out, that blinking light was a hidden camera about the size of a marker. The anonymous woman removed it using paper towels to preserve fingerprints. Then, police went on the hunt for the person who tacked it there.
“It was aimed right at the toilet, so he would get people undressing to use the bathroom,” said Lt. Darrin Devereux.
At least seven people, men and women both, are known to have been captured on the hidden camera so far. Officials are combing the perpetrator’s seized electronics to find more victims.
The peeping tom who admitted to placing the device in the Starbucks bathroom is Melcher Carrilloalvarado, 44 (whose name was alternately spelled Melchor Carrillo Alvarado). Police had issued a picture of a person of interest who’d been seen milling in the area around the time it was discovered, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Because of “extensive media coverage,” Carrilloalvarado turned himself in to authorities, KTLA reported. He apparently arrived at the station to ask why his face was all over the news.
“He initially denied any involvement in the crime, but after investigators spoke with him, he did admit to placing the camera in the restroom,” said Devereux.
He’s been charged with seven misdemeanors and has since been released, but police are searching his home and taking a look at his laptop and other electronics.
Police don’t know how long the hidden camera had been in the Starbucks restroom.
Melcher’s son, Hector, has come forward since his father’s arrest to acknowledge he has a “problem,” which could need psychological treatment. Hector, 22, told NBC that his dad has taken responsibility for the “mistake,” and called him a “great father” and hard worker. Carrilloalvarado also has three daughters.
A psychologist named Dr. David Pincus told the station that sexual deviations like voyeurism can be controlled with treatment. But for the seven people filmed using the toilet, that’s likely not much consolation.
“You just never think it’s going to happen to you,” said the woman who found the device. “Once that device hit the floor and I saw the light, I immediately knew it was something, it was a camera.”
And there are more victims of other voyeurs. Two weeks ago, a hidden camera was found in a Del Taco restaurant. And last month, a 5-year-old found one in another Starbucks.
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