STUART, Fla. (WPEC) — With technology advancing, cameras are getting smaller and smaller. Now, criminals are hiding them in things like charging outlets.
On Thursday, the Martin County Sheriff's Office said detectives arrested Bruce Wayne Grady, a 61-year-old landlord accused of spying on his 12-year-old tenant with hidden cameras.
There are several apps that have camera scanning technology that can find these hidden cameras, even if they are as tiny as a charging outlet plug-in. Martin County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy, John Budensiek says these cameras are becoming more common.
It’s not just outlet cameras that you have to be concerned of; it’s smoke detector cameras, but really anywhere there’s a power source. You can do it with batteries too. These cameras are so small that if the suspect has access to the Wi-Fi, you could be vulnerable at any time,” he told WPEC.
According to a police report provided by the Martin County Sheriff's Office, the 12-year-old girl discovered the camera when she was trying to plug in her computer in her bedroom.
Once getting to the house, the preteen's father found Grady inside. Bruce explained to he was doing electrical work and would be done shortly. The father, detectives said, was unaware of Bruce coming into the residence to do work. He (the father) usually gets notice, but never got a notification of Grady coming to do the job.
“It's just a small device. And I guess you can buy them online for like $50. But it was a camera that was hardwired into the electrical outlet. And the hole where the camera would shine through or video through was one of the outlet phone holes,” said Budensiek.
The girl downloaded a camera-scanning app called “Hidden Camera Finder.” According to the report, her app stated there were unknown cameras inside her house.
“It’s horrifying because it violated her privacy; you should be safe in your own home. But in this particular case, he’s clearly a pervert. He put this in the bathroom, facing the shower,” said Budensiek.
There are other camera scanning apps you can purchase if you suspect there's a camera in your home, rental or Airbnb. If you search "hidden camera detector," several options will appear in your app store.
The landlord was found inside the girl's home Sept. 17. The police were called Sept. 30. The cameras were inside the home for almost two weeks.
Unfortunately, this 12-year-old girl was not safe and she was victimized, unknowingly, for a period of time,” said Budensiek.
The family has lived at the property for about two years. Budensiek said during that time, they have not reported any suspicious activity.
Martin County Criminal Investigation Division (MCCID), as well as Crime Scene, responded to the scene, and the investigation was turned over to MCCID.
Budensiek says there are services being offered to the victim through the State Attorney’s Office. A special victims advocate has been assigned to her case and will help her through the court process, then refer her to whatever organizations or counselors she may need to recuperate from this.
The chief deputy said anyone can fall victim to a crime like this, but there are ways to help prevent things like this from happening.
“Check your devices, go home, check your wireless devices, see what's supposed to be online and what's not. And that will kind of help you eliminate what shouldn't be there, change your passwords, and always have a secure internet connection,” said Budensiek.
The sheriff's department said Grady owns other properties. Due to the sensitive nature of this case, they can’t do anything that points straight back to the victim while trying to check on the other properties.
Grady was charged with one count of video voyeurism by a person 19 years old or older. This is his first offense.