A woman was visiting a Starbucks in Brea, California when she got a whole lot more than a mocha latte. While using the restroom, the customer noticed a device about the size of a large pen mounted beneath a shelf. She recognized it as a video recorder, removed it, and alerted the police.
Hidden camera found in restroom of Starbucks 101 W. Imperial Hwy, Brea. Small video camera mounted under shelf. pic.twitter.com/gW3l8dqlUg— Brea Police Dept (@BreaPD) August 17, 2015
The police were at first unsure if the object in question was a recorder, but further examination at an Orange County forensic lab determined that it was, in fact, a miniature video camera.
Camera size of a large pen. Detectives working to ID vict and suspect from captured video images. pic.twitter.com/wXJOd3ylmW— Brea Police Dept (@BreaPD) August 17, 2015
In order to gain further insight into the crime, the police had to watch the footage to try and identify other potential victims and/or the culprit—which, in a way, just intensifies the injustice these people have had to face. Their privacy has been violated once deliberately, and any attempt to bring the culprit to justice requires that they be further exposed. It’s a nasty situation all around.
It’s unclear how long the camera had been hidden in the bathroom. So far, at least seven victims have been identified.
Just before camera found in Starbucks bathroom this subject was seen in area. Detectives would like to interview him pic.twitter.com/qjDxKktmHY— Brea Police Dept (@BreaPD) August 17, 2015
A suspect by the name of Melcher Carrilloalvarado, 44, was arrested earlier today on seven misdemeanor counts. He’s been since released, but will have to appear in court in the future. Carrilloalvarado is from La Habra, where another camera was found hidden in a restaurant about a month ago. It’s not yet clear whether the two incidents are related, but it seems too much to be merely a coincidence.
A Starbucks spokersperson responded to the incident, stating that:
“We take our obligation to provide a safe environment for our customers and partners (employees) very seriously. As a part of regular store operations, we monitor the seating areas and restrooms in our stores on a regular basis to identify potential safety or security concerns.”
But it’s the second time in as many months that a hidden camera has been found in a South California location of the coffee chain. Similar incidents took place earlier in February and April at a Starbucks in Walnut Creek, CA.
Most of these incidents were unrelated, and perpetrated by different individuals, but the pattern is nonetheless disturbing. Why are Starbucks bathrooms, and those in California particularly, being targeted?