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Hidden camera found in Rotorua cafe toilet

Date: 20/7/08

Author: Alison Brown [email protected]

Source: The Daily Post

Toilet cameraThree people have been secretly filmed using the toilet at Rotorua's Starbucks cafe by man who planted a hidden handycam video.

The gross invasion of privacy has horrified staff and customers.

The Sony Handycam was found by staff on Wednesday containing graphic footage of three people going to the toilet.

The Handycam appears to have been planted by a member of the public who tried to conceal it by using a toilet brush holder and wrapping it in a black plastic bag.

The incident has been reported to Rotorua police and has the hospitality industry on alert for anyone behaving suspiciously around public toilets.

The shocking discovery was made on Wednesday at 12.30pm by a male staff member who used the unisex bathroom to blow his nose.

Looking down, he noticed a suspicious object on the floor behind the toilet bowl, under the cistern.

On closer inspection, he discovered a Sony handycam secretly recording customers. The camera was sitting on a small tripod fixed to the white toilet brush holder.

He immediately switched off the camera and took it to Starbucks' area manager, Thomas Cox, who was visiting the store at the time.

Mr Cox told The Daily Post the camera contained about five minutes' worth of footage, featuring three male and female customers who had just used the toilet.

"There was some graphic stuff on there," he said.

The camera also showed the man who is believed to have hidden it, leaving the bathroom.

Mr Cox said he saw the man in the store and had noticed him "acting dodgy".

"It was about five minutes later that we found the camera."

The offender is described as aged in his early to mid-20s, of Asian descent, and about 174cm tall. He had a thin build, short black hair, and wore glasses.

Starbucks staff say the toilet brush holder used by the man did not belong to the store, suggesting the offender must have brought it with him.

It was weighed down with two medium-size stones, placed inside the holder.

Mr Cox took the camera to the Rotorua police, who initially referred him to their lost and found section. Staff there referred him back to the main counter. Police didn't view the camera footage.

Mr Cox said he was told by police there was nothing they could do but suggested that Starbucks staff call 111 if the man re-entered the store to collect the camera.

Starbucks marketing and category manager Joe Rich said the man had not been back. "If the man isn't back by Monday then Mr Cox will be handing it to Rotorua police. We don't want to keep it."

Rotorua police area commander Inspector Bruce Horne said the man's actions would constitute a criminal offence.

"There are a number of possibilities, the most obvious being disorderly behaviour. It would depend on a number of factors," he said.

Mr Horne did not want to comment on the police response, saying he would have to look further into the situation before it would be appropriate to comment.

The hidden camera's discovery has sparked concern among Rotorua's cafe and restaurant industry that Wednesday's incident may not be an isolated case.

Dana Symons, who owns Robert Harris cafe outlets in Rotorua, said the concern for everyone was that the offender could strike again if they're not caught.

"I'm quite shocked by it - that's so disgusting," she said. "And if they've done it once, the likelihood is that they'll try again."

Rob Parry, owner of McDonald's chain of restaurants in Rotorua, said that in his 22-year career, he had never heard of anything like it before. He planned to alert staff to the incident at Starbucks."I fear it's a sign of the times. Hopefully it won't result in any copycat behaviour."



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