On July 9, a five-year-old boy accompanying his mother to a Starbucks women’s restroom found a hidden cell phone under the sink with its camera pointed toward the toilet.
The boy’s mother, who wished to remain anonymous, told KTLA-TV, “My son used the restroom first and I used the restroom after him. I noticed he was staring at the sink a little bit perplexed. I asked him what was wrong and he said, ‘Mommy, why is there a phone under there?’”
The woman entered the single-occupancy restroom in the Lancaster Starbucks to find the phone wedged under the sink with paper towels directly at her son’s eye-level. She told KTLA, “My skin began to crawl, adding, “It had taken some work to get it to stand the way it was standing, so I could tell it had been placed there purposely.”
Starbucks employees alerted by the mother informed the sheriff’s department. Lt. Joseph Fender of the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station explained to KTLA, “Upon their arrival the deputies discovered that the cell phone was running in a video recorded motion and they took custody of the phone.” He said sheriff’s deputies obtained surveillance video and will use it to find the perpetrator.
The mother concluded, “It’s such a violation of privacy. Not only of mine, but my son. It makes me feel like we’re not safe anywhere.”
Starbucks spokesperson Jaime Riley told KTLA, “We are disturbed by this incident and take our obligation to provide a safe environment for our customers and partners (employees) very seriously. Our store partners took swift action as soon as they became aware of the incident by immediately alerting the Sheriff’s Department of the situation.”
This is not the first time Starbucks has been victimized by a hidden camera in a restroom.
In 2011 a rash of incidents across the country featured hidden cameras, including one in Washington, D.C., where the reverse of the Lancaster incident occurred, as a man’s five-year-old daughter discovered a camera in the men’s restroom. In another incident in Glendora, CA, William Velasco, 25, was alleged to have hidden a camera in the women’s restroom. In 2014, a North Texas man was arrested for putting cameras in many eateries in Dallas-Ft. Worth, including a Starbucks.