As a quick exercise, take a look around the room you’re currently sitting in and make a mental note of all the normal, everyday items that could potentially be used to conceal a hidden camera. That clock, high up on a wall. That old smartphone that has been on a shelf for the last six months. That stuffed animal that your child brought home from school one day. That USB wall charger that you think you put there yourself, but suddenly you’re not quite sure.
Out of all the items that you currently see, that can of air freshener sitting about fifteen feet away probably wouldn’t be very high on the list – if it managed to make it at all. You’d be incredibly wrong, however, as a man from East Longmeadow, Massachusetts used exactly that to spy on his friends and family earlier in 2017.
Air Freshener Hidden Cameras: What Happened?
The York Police Department in York, Maine recently revealed the story of a man who used hidden cameras concealed inside average, everyday air fresheners to spy on his friends, family members and other loved ones in a vacation home that they all shared. Joseph McGrath, age 32, was eventually charged with violation of privacy as he illegally recorded at least 15 people – including three young children – over an undetermined period of time.
One of the houseguests actually approached a neighbor, Greg Fillas, after discovering one of the hidden cameras. They indicated that they had initially found just one surveillance device but, after a thorough search, had actually found more in all of the home’s bathrooms.
Authorities say that McGrath’s plan came undone after one of the victims picked up what looked to be a standard can of Glade air freshener. Almost immediately upon inspecting it, the can fell apart – revealing the powerful little camera hidden inside. That victim actually gathered the rest of the houseguests to reveal his findings and to try to figure out who placed it there. This is when McGrath’s role in the ordeal was discovered.
Detectives say that while the vast majority of the group all arrived in the home at the same time, they think that McGrath actually arrived a day early so that he could set up all the cameras he needed to collect the footage he desperately wanted.
Regardless of when the cameras were set up, there is no doubt that McGrath was behind it all. He was actually captured by his own cameras doing exactly that. Upon reviewing the footage, nearly every camera’s hard drive began with images of McGrath turning on the device, setting it up, examining it to make sure that the placement was just right and then walking away.
To make things more complicated, the group was only actually renting the house for the purposes of a vacation – they didn’t own it. The authorities say that the home’s actual owners have been cooperating with their extensive investigation so far.
Again, we’re officially living in a world where absolutely anything can be turned into a hidden camera if you have the right equipment and just a small amount of knowledge as to what you’re actually doing. This particular case is also an important lesson in terms of who you can trust – and who you can’t. With equipment this affordable and this advanced, absolutely anyone could turn themselves into an amateur spy with little to no actual effort on their part. All told, it is estimated that McGrath only spent a few hundred dollars total on all of the devices found in the house.
To put it mildly, never let anyone tell you that you’re being “too suspicious” or “too paranoid” if you think you might be under the observation of a hidden camera. Chances are, you just might be right.