Beware of that coat hanger - it could be a spy cam

AsiaOne
June 20, 2016

The art of peeping has become so sophisticated today that it makes the hole-in-the-wall tactic of Norman, the psychopath character in Alfred Hitchcock's hit movie, Psycho, appear so passe.

With the profusion of spy gadgets so wickedly tiny that they can even escape the naked eye, the worry of being robbed of your private moments by potential voyeurs is much more unnerving than Norman snooping on a motel guest through the hole while she is undressing in her room.

But what you should be wary of now - if you're staying in a hotel or using a changing room - are things that appear to be normal too.

For example, the coat hanger, a practical item that most hotel guests would be glad to use but would not pay much attention to it.

TrueActivist reported that that some perverted criminals are swapping double-hook coat hangers with modified ones fitted with tiny cameras. Reportedly found in Florida, Kansas, and Nevada, the devices are most likely to be found in dressing rooms, hotel rooms, and public bathrooms, it said.

One woman discovered she was being spied upon when she accidentally knocked the coat hanger off the wall and found it contained a small camera. Immediately, she reported the dreadful find to the police, TrueActivist reported.

What is worrisome is that such devices are easily available online and cost as little as $13. Depending on their size and make, coat hangers with spy cams can fetch a price range of between that amount and nearly $100.

Voyeurs need not have to go all the way to Sim Lim to try their luck. They can easily buy them on sites like Lazada and eBay. And there's a slew to choose from - hooks, pens, alarm clocks, spectacles and smoke detectors in various designs.

How to spot them

1) If an object has a tiny hole, it very well may be rigged with a camera.

2) Examine it closely to see if it has a lens.

3) If the hole in the object flashes a light.

4) If you notice an object appear or disappear out of the blue - that is, if you stay or use that room long enough for the voyeur to carry out his operation.

5) If an object seems to be out of place - like a pen or a pair of spectacles in the bathroom.

If your suspicions are right, call the police immediately.

How some culprits were caught

Coat hangers' sudden appearance aroused staff suspicion: Systems analyst Zheng Zhongshi, 34, mounted spy cameras disguised as coat hooks in fitting rooms at Cotton On outlets - at White Sands shopping mall first and then at Plaza Singapura - to film women undressing.

But the staff at the Plaza Singapura outlet found them suspicious as they had not seen them before. So they removed them and lodged a police report. Zheng was jailed for 20 weeks last December.

Yellow light from a pen: Software engineer Jahja Salam, 50, a Singapore permanent resident, was jailed six weeks on June 14 after he used a spy 'pen' to record his domestic worker in the shower in his Sengkang flat.

She noticed a yellow light coming from the 'pen'. which was fitted with a video camera. She kept the item and reported to police.

A bathroom is no place for a pen: Early last year, two Malaysian women revealed at a press conference how a college friend they had known for six years was secretly filming them as they bathed.

The pervert's game was over after one of the women found a pen-shaped spy camera while bathing in the man's house in Sibu, Sarawak during a group holiday in December 2014. She found it odd that the black pen would be placed inside a toothbrush case.

When she opened the pen, she found a micro SD card inside it. The pen had a tiny lens embedded in its clip. Both women found videos of themselves bathing in the memory card.

chenj@sph.com.sg

AsiaOne

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