YORK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A family vacation turns into a nightmare when people renting a home find hidden cameras in the bathrooms.
Four "nanny cameras" were found in a vacation home in York. But it's who police say put the cameras there that may surprise some people.
The rental, on Nubble Road, is just a stone’s throw from the fabled Nubble Light House and pristine York Beach. The group of 15 shared the eight-bedroom, four-bathroom duplex over the Labor Day weekend. It was on the final day, Labor Day Monday that the first camera was discovered by one of the adults.
"The gentleman picked it up, and it fell apart a little bit in his hand and when he brought it downstairs, took it apart," Det. Matt Calcina explained. "And from there the video basically goes dead."
Det. Calcina specializes in mobile forensics and calls this an unusual, even creepy case.
The camera was hidden inside a Glade Air Freshener can. Police believe it was likely purchased online. “You can go online, search for them and buy anything out there and they’ll just hide in the house. Which is creepy.”
Calcina describes them along the lines of “nanny cams,” which are often used by parents to keep an eye on babysitters, to ensure there is no abuse or neglect taking place.
“For the nanny cams they have teddy bears, they have all sorts of devices," Calcina said. "It looks like they’re putting cameras in a lot of things now.” He said a search on the internet and they can be purchased at about $400 a piece.
Police said the cameras were deliberately planted by one of the adults in the vacationing group: 32-year-old Joseph J. McGrath, who lives in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. They said McGrath, his wife and their child were vacationing with the group.
The devices were placed on top of the back of the toilets with a clear view of the shower area. “Officers went up there, they found SD cards in there and they ended up taking them back there and we eventually got search warrants for them, which led to the discovery of who was doing it.”
The air fresheners had a motion sensor and a small hole for a camera, which means every person who stepped into the bathroom, was recorded. Three of the victims were children, 12 adults.
It's a Class D crime, a violation of privacy to put up cameras in private areas of a house and videotape without a person’s knowledge. Those who were victimized, police said, fully plan to press charges.
"Obviously they're surprised. They didn't know this was going to happen. They've been friends for a while, some of them have been friends for a long time and there's a few that are family members. They didn't see it at all but now they're obviously very upset especially with their children being photographed and videotaped."
York County Police are working with members of the East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Police, McGrath’s hometown, to determine if there have been other cases and whether there is any evidence in his home that may lead to other charges and arrests.
Calcina shared that he is working with the district attorney’s office on additional information that has been discovered since the cameras were discovered on Sept. 4.
Calcina said this case, these hidden cameras should serve as a warning to his family and all of ours. “When I go into places and see these cameras, I’ve never really seen them before out in the public or cases like this. So now I’m more aware of my surroundings and hopefully, we can pass that on to the public, you know, what to look for and to just look around a little bit.”
If you have any information on this case, York Police asks that you call (207) 363-4444. Anonymous tips can also be made through the Seacoast Crime Stoppers hotline at (207) 439-1199, or www.seacoastcrimestoppers.org.
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