Naked eye: hidden cameras more common than you think?
Dear Readers, It astounds me about the lengths some people will go to get their jollies. Seeing people as "its" existing for their own pleasure and use is about as animalistic as it gets. I think there is nothing worse than a human animal–vicious, cunning, wicked and evil. I learned in Elijah House Prayer Counseling that we are all born into sin and that human beings must be taught to be human. I'm sure this view will not resonate with some, but the Bible is explicit that we are fallen creatures who must be trained in the way we should go. It grieves my spirit for the lost souls walking this earth. Blessings, Dona Witmer
A camera hidden in a fake screw head. Photo: Ken Irwin
Hidden cameras in change rooms and toilets are far more common than people realise and advances in technology have made them so small that they are virtually impossible to detect, a Sydney counter-surveillance expert said.
Organisations are typically oblivious to the presence of hidden cameras and, on the odd occasions they do find them, are reluctant to come forward to police for fear of reputational damage, said Julian Claxton, a surveillance expert whose company, Jayde Consulting, conducts sweeps for recording devices.
Just this year, Claxton has investigated two instances in Sydney, one involving a hidden camera in the change room of a Sydney private school and another involving a camera placed in the toilet of a building in Haymarket.
A camera hidden in a fake smoke detector. Photo: Ken Irwin
"Two or three inquiries a year where devices have been found is quite significant … in this business you would be lucky to find something 1 or 2 per cent of the time," said Claxton, estimating he saw only 10 per cent of the reported cases in Sydney.
"We believe that there's a lot more going on that's not being picked up."
He would not reveal the name of the school but said the school did not pursue the matter with police because it "didn't want the disclosure".
NSW Police last week released a picture of a man they believe may have planted a hidden camera in a Sydney clothing store change room. Photo: Supplied/NSW Police
"One of the students found something sitting on the top of a rubbish bin and it turned out to be a little camera that was recording to an SD card," said Claxton.
In the Haymarket case, a woman found pictures of herself sitting on the toilet. The images had been floating around her local community.
Although publicity of these cases is rare, two have been reported this month.
Camera hidden in pen holder, with the lens seen in the centre of the green sticker. Photo: Ken Irwin
The Australian Defence Force Academy charged a 21-year-old male cadet with secretly filming a female colleague in the shower. The man had hidden a mobile phone in a vent.
On August 24 police released pictures of a man they believed planted a mobile phone in a Sydney clothing store change room. Police warned people to be on the lookout for any recording devices when they use change rooms in retail shops.
In 2008, an SBS staff member was suspended after photographs of three women taken in an SBS change room were found on his personal computer. The camera had been hidden in a ceiling and the perpetrator was caught only after the photos were discovered by a PC repair shop.
The cameras are so small that they are virtually undetectable.
Claxton said that, while mobile phones were easy to spot, there were scores of tiny recording devices available on eBay that were small enough to fit into the head of a screw, buttons, pens or cigarette packets.
"One-inch squared would be a big one," he said.
They have become so advanced that one 2.5" camera available on eBay has a wireless transmitter on it enabling the offenders to view the footage from a distance without ever having to retrieve the device. The cameras can either be connected to small batteries or permanent power sources.
Claxton said the problem was not only compounded by the fact that cameras were getting smaller, but also by the ability to record significantly more footage on a single card than ever before.
"They are coming in so many different sizes, shapes and forms now that, for $10, I can buy a camera hidden inside a writing pen with a USB solid state recorder inside," he said.
"It'll give me several hours of recording in my pocket or I can leave it on a desk or I can prop it up on a window sill in a shower."
He said the only way to catch the perpetrators was to sit and wait for them to come and retrieve the camera or catch them in the act of installing it in the first place.
"In most cases when we do find listening devices it's very, very difficult to actually catch the perpetrators despite its illegality," said Claxton.
"I would suggest that there's a lot more that goes on where they throw something in for a period of a day and then they pull it out that night to get whatever their thrill is and then they will try that again down the track."
He said he recommended that clients modify the environment to make it more difficult for cameras to be installed, such as only using solid ceilings, choosing vent locations well and making sure things such as vents and soap dispensers are not easily tampered with.
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